Fed govt, stakeholders parley on power sector debts

By The Citizen

The Federal Government has begun talks with players in the power sector value chain (generation, transmission, distribution and regulatory bodies) on how to find ways of paying the huge arrears of unpaid electricity bills owed by Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) put at N60 billion, The Nation has learnt.

The Executive Director, Research and Advocacy, Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), Sunday Oduntan, stated this when he spoke with The Nation on the 2016 budgetary allocation to the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing.

Oduntan said he could not measure the impact of the budget on the power sector until it is broken down and Nigerians know how much goes to the power sector.

He however said that whatever allocation that is due to  the power sector would be for the transmission segment of the value chain because other segments are private sector owned and controlled.

He said: 'The budget is not broken down so I wouldn't be able to assess how it would impact the electricity power sector. But remember that among the value chain, government needs only to fund the transmission. Actually what we need from the government is conducive policies and environment, encouragement of direct foreign investment into the power sector.

'The government should also encourage investors in the sector, ensure steady and adequate supply of gas to power generation stations because if the power stations generate more power, the distribution companies will have more power to distribute. What Nigerians need is let there be light.'

He said whatever is allocated to the power sector may not matter much, saying what matters is, 'let the allocation be judiciously utilised. What matters now is let every stakeholder do what is supposed to be done.'

On the MDAs' debt, Oduntan said, it was N58 billion at the end of last year. It has gone up to N60 billion now, but he did not disclose the details of the ongoing discussion with the government on the issue.

'Negotiations are ongoing because the debt is for the entire value chain and each segment of the chain needs funds for effective performance. They (government) are on it. They are working on it that is all I will tell you,' he stated. The Nation