Distribute meters before tariff hike – Lawan tells DisCos

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan has called on electricity distribution companies (DisCos) to install functional meters for their customers before implementing any tariff increase.

Lawan stated this on Tuesday after he and House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila met with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on the proposed increase in electricity tariff.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) had announced that the new price regime for electricity consumers would start today.

But in a statement on Monday, the National Assembly had said its leadership had agreed with the DisCos to suspend the planned increase.

Addressing State House correspondents after meeting, Lawan said the increase was untimely as necessary parameters should be on ground before such hike, Punch writes.

“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. 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 tariff. But before then, there must some steps to ensure that the consumers are properly metered.

“Otherwise, you will 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 the announcement of an increase in electricity tariff in Nigeria is 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. This is a welcome idea to the Vice-President as well,” he said.

Lawan noted that to stabilise power supply, the Share Purchase Agreement signed between the Federal Government and the DisCos at the point of privatisation must be adhered to.

Also, the Senate on Tuesday asked the Federal Government to subsidise electricity for Nigerians to reduce the effect of the proposed hike in electricity tariff.

The Chairman of its Committee on Power, Gabriel Suswam made the call while addressing reporters in Abuja.

He said:

“Nowhere in the world is power not subsidised, especially in developing economies, because there are genuine people, who, because of their income, are unable to pay what is called cost-reflective tariff.

“Nigerians are heavily burdened because of COVID-19. The economy has contracted by 3.2 per cent. That’s a lot.”

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