NLC rejects planned divestment of 40% public shares in DISCOs, GENCOs

***Warns against increase in electricity tariff; fuel pump price

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has warned against any further increase in electricity tariff; and petroleum pump price, saying that the workers and Nigerian people will not accept further hardship.

Besides, the Congress rejected any attempt to divest 40% of public shares in DISCOs and GENCOs; and asked the government to further empower the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to prevail upon DISCOs to scrap the practice of estimated billings.

A communique issued after its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting said: “The NEC rejects any increase in electricity tariff in the country. It was the conviction of the NEC that continuous hike in electricity tariff and persistent power outages present a huge financial burden for businesses thus making goods and services produced in Nigeria not to be competitive as goods cum services produced elsewhere.

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“After due considerations, the NEC; rejects any attempt to divest 40% of public shares in DISCOs and GENCOs. The NEC described such a move as tantamount to rewarding poor performance. The NEC posited that instead of selling public shares in DISCOs and GENCOs, the government should review and reverse the privatisation of the power sector.”

The congress called on the government to further empower the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to prevail upon DISCOs to scrap the practice of estimated billings, enforce relevant laws and guidelines outlawing estimated billings and immediately deploy prepaid meters to electricity consumers all over the country.

This, according to NLC, would be in line with earlier deadlines given by NERC to DISCOs to supply prepaid meters to electricity consumers in the country.

While rejecting further hike in electricity tariff, the NEC called on the government to make electricity available and affordable.

Signed by the NLC President, Comd. Ayuba Wabba, the communique said: “Further Privatisation through Divestment of 40% of Government Shares in DISCOs and GENCOs is unacceptable. The NEC noted with concern media reports of Federal government plans to divest 40% of its shares in DISCOs and GENCOs. The NEC also deplored the persistence of power outages and frustration of many electricity consumers in Nigeria through estimated billings.”

Besides, the communique said the Congress unanimously rejected any move to increase the pump price of refined petroleum products.

It added: “The NEC reiterated its position that any attempt to hike the pump price of refined petroleum products would amount to transferring the cost of inefficiency in the downstream petroleum sub-sector to the already impoverished and suffering masses of our people.

“The NEC urged Nigerian workers and people to be vigilant against any increase in the price of refined petroleum products. Government is, therefore, urged to fix the inefficiencies in the downstream petroleum sub-sector;”

It added: “The NEC further observed with serious concern increase in the sponsored campaign in the media for a hike in the price of refined petroleum products. The NEC noted that the persistent crisis in the downstream petroleum sub-sector in Nigeria is occasioned by the failure of successive government to refine crude oil domestically thereby subjecting Nigeria to volatility in the international commodities market, a situation further exacerbated by the continuous devaluation of the Nigerian currency.

“The NEC bemoaned the fact that Nigeria is the only member of the Oil Producing Export Countries (OPEC) which cannot refine its crude oil both for domestic use and for possible export.”

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