Osinbajo, NASS leadership confer on planned hike on electricity tariff

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja met with Senate President,  Ahmed Lawan and Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, over the proposed increase in electricity tariff.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Osinbajo, heads the Power Sector Reform Coordination Working Group.
The National Assembly had in a statement on Monday, said its leadership had agreed with the DisCos to suspend the planned increase.
Lawan, who spoke with State House correspondents after meeting, said the increase was untimely as necessary parameters should be on ground before such hike.
“The joint leadership of the National Assembly sat yesterday with the DISCOs and Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and we believe that it is not the right time to increase the tariffs in the electricity today.
“Nigerians have a lot of challenges to bear because of COVID 19 pandemic and the situation requires that we should do everything possible to make life easy for our citizens and of course, government is doing a lot in this respect.
“We believe that the DISCOs should continue to engage with their consumers; find better cost reflective tariffs; but before then, there must some steps to ensure that the consumers are properly metered.
“Otherwise, you still be guessing what consumers are consuming; that is to say, let the billing be very scientifically based; it has to be based on what you actually consume.
“So, we had this discussion with the vice president and we are sure that that announcement of increase in electricity tariff in Nigeria in untimely.
“We believe that we need to do more work to ensure that before any increase, there must be some measures; some steps and some line of actions that must be exhausted including the metering and this is a welcome idea to the vice president as well.’’
He said that to stablise power supply, the Share Purchase Agreement signed between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the DISCOs at the point of privatisation must be adhered to.
According to him, DISCOs are businesses hence they must do everything possible to provide services.
“ When they provide services, efficient and effective services to consumers, then they can make money; but in the process as a government, we too must ensure that we discharge our obligations in the Shared Purchase Agree signed.
“Once we are able to achieve that, we will have a better situation in the power sector in Nigeria; it is doable; it has happened elsewhere.
“So, we cannot continue to give DISCOs and GENCOs the resources that we will ordinarily deploy in building schools and hospitals but whatever is necessary for us to do as part of our agreement with them, we must do.’’
On the International Day of Parliamentarism, Lawan said that the National Assembly had creditably acquitted itself especially in supporting the fight against COVID-19.
The senate president, however, said it was left to the public to assess the performance of the National Assembly.
“Well, we have been doing our best but it is for the public to judge what we do; I would not like to say that we should rate ourselves but I want to assure that in the prevailing circumstances, the National Assembly has been its best.
“We try to attend to all those issues that we believe are contemporaneous; those resources the government needs to address COVID-19 pandemic situation.
“We recently passed the revised budget 2020 and of course that included the stimulus package to support the COVID-19 situation.
“So, we have been doing our best and we are always available to ensure that we undertake those parliamentary interventions that will be required as and when due; we have done very well but it for the public to judge,’’ he said.
On his part, Gbajabiamila said all agreed that there was need for cost reflective tariff but it should be done at the appropriate time.
According to him, when there is a major policy decision, it is always good that the executive and legislature are on the same page; hence to the vice president.
He said the National Assembly leadership had earlier met with President Muhammadu Buhari.
The speaker said that the stakeholders had agreed to suspend the increase for a while; get the buy in of the people and explain to the people the reasons why the increase had to be done.
NAN reports that June 30 is the day designated to celebrate the International Day of Parliamentarism by the UN.

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