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NERC calls the bluff of NLC, insists on new electricity tariff

By The Rainbow
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THE Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has literarily called the bluff of the Nigeria Labour Congress on their statement over the weekend rejecting increases in electricity tariff.

NERC accused  the union of simply jumping ship since its leadership was part of a multi-stakeholders consultation that allegedly initiated the raise with the NLC leadership in Jos, Plateau State.

At a press briefing in Abuja Monday, NERC Chairman, Dr. Sam Amadi, at a media briefing on Monday, said the Labour's position was unnecessary as electricity supply had 'improved significantly.'

To Amadi, the tariffs are fair, fair, reasonable and necessary to guarantee continuous improvement in electricity supply to homes and businesses in Nigeria.

He added that the multi-year tariff order of N500 fixed charge for 2012 was slightly increased to N700 with effect from June 2013 and as such there has not been an arbitrary increase of tariffs.

Electricity consumers in the country have been lamenting the annual increase in fixed charges which comes into effect on the 1st of June every year.

Some electricity consumers in their reaction advised the commission to work towards ensuring increased electricity supply by distribution companies.

Although the Nigerian Labour Congress has criticised the increase in fixed charges, the five year multiyear tariff order which came into effect in 2012 to ensure that electricity consumers pay more for electricity supply between now and 2017.

In a statement on Sunday, NLC President, Abdulwaheed Omar, had premised the Congress's rejection of the new tariff on government's failure to check epileptic power supply and the low purchasing power of the working populace.

Access charge, which was N225 the previous year, 'has been arbitrarily increased to over N700. This review, whether done suddenly or in advance, is without justification or rationale and stands condemned as it will negate whatever gains expected to be recorded by the much-vaunted reform in the power sector,' the NLC said.

Labour said it believes the multi-year tariff structure as designed by the NERC, which was 'tacitly' approved by government, only protects the interest of investors in the electricity sector and has little or no consideration for consumers, most of whom are poor and incapable of paying.

Describing the tariff as exploitative, the Congress further said it was saddening that the review was not accompanied by commensurate improvement in services. It stated: 'If anything, electricity service delivery has plummeted over the years with consumers being compelled to pay exorbitant tariffs for incompetence, poor services and fraud.'

However, Amadi stressed that the new tariff was fair, reasonable and necessary to guarantee continuous improvement in electricity supply to Nigerians. According to him, the Multi- Year Tariff Order (MYTO-2) was designed and executed with utmost accountability and full participation of relevant stakeholders, including the NLC, which participated in public hearings and consultations.

The agency noted: 'A minor review under MYTO involves an examination of interest rates, exchange rates, inflation rates and available generation capacity during the preceding six months, and if these report a change of plus or minus five per cent individually, such change will be applied to the tariff published for each distribution company.

'The two reviews did not result in any increase in tariff because the indices and fundamentals of the MYTO have not significantly changed. The changes some customers belatedly noticed in their bills were announced on June 1, 2012.'