- It’s Deceitful, Says Labour
- LCCI: Fresh Increase Puts Electricity Reform Process At Risk
The fresh increase in the cost of electricity tariffs in the country has drawn condemnation from Nigerians who viewed the increase as an overkill at a time when many are still battling the economic challenges put forward by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Organized Labour, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have all called on the federal government to revisit the tariffs review leading to the recent hike amid call by the electricity stakeholders for a cost-reflctive tariffs.
This latest hike came just two months after the electricity tariffs were reviewed in October, 2020.
Whereas, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has responded to the raging controversy over reported hike in electricity tariff by over 50 per cent, many Nigerians remain upbeat over the manner of the increase which was approved on December 31 without any formal announcement to Nigerians. The increment which took effect on January 1, only became public Tuesday, sparking confusion, denials and clarification from the government.
According to the electricity regulatory body, the rates for service bands A,B,C,D and E were adjusted by NGN2.00 to NGN4.00 per kWhr. The Commission in a statement by its spokesman, Micheal Faloseyi rationalized the adjustment on ground that it is a reflection of existing impact of inflation as well as changes in forex dynamics which have greatly affected the NERC operations.
The electricity regulator body further disclosed that its customers on service bands D and E are not affected by this latest adjustment.
The NERC statement as released by Faloseyi reads thus:“The attention of the Commission has been drawn to publications in the print and electronic media misinforming electricity consumers that the Commission has approved a 50% increase in electricity tariffs.
“The Commission hereby state unequivocally that NO approval has been granted for a 50% tariff increase in the Tariff Order for electricity distribution companies which took effect on January 1, 2021.
“On the contrary, the tariff for customers on service bands D & E (customers being served less than an average of 12hrs of supply per day over a period of one month) remains frozen and subsidised in line with the policy direction of the FG.”
Reacting to the news of the tarrif hike, NLC President, Ayuba Wabba said it’s deceitful. He described the federal government’s action as improper since the joint technical committee set up to review the processes involved in tariff fixing is still at work.
He said while other countries are giving palliatives to cushion the effect of the economic hardship on citizens occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nigerian government is inflicting more hardship on its citizens.
The Trade Union Congress ((TUC) in a statement by its President, Quadiri Olaleye, said the tariff increase will increase the hardship of Nigerians. “Sometimes we wonder why this government espouses unfriendly policies that are capable of crippling the economy. There are many companies that have either closed shops or relocated to neighbouring countries because they cannot afford to pay the last tariff hike yet this government has done another one. Does it mean there is no other way this government can creatively generate revenue? It has become obvious that the outrages from the organised labour and the masses and the series of negotiations we had with government were just cosmetic and hypocritical.
“There is so much deceit and laziness in the system. There is hardly any promise made that they have followed through.” The TUC said.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) described the hike in electricity tariff as insensitive and anti-people, adding that it will worsen the economic hardship being faced by Nigerians.
The party, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the reasons adduced by NERC is not enough to warrant such an increase in electricity tariff, especially at the time Nigerians are looking up to government for economic recovery programmes and packages.
The PDP urged the APC and its government to note that such electricity tariff hike, at this critical time, will bear more pressure on homes and businesses, impact negatively on the national productivity and make life more unbearable, particularly at this period of economic recession.
“What our nation needs at this point are positive policies that will encourage Nigerians in their productive endeavours and cushion the hardship they face on daily basis instead of wicked policies that will only worsen their situation,” it added.
Reacting, the Director-General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr. Muda Yusuf, said the government approach towards electricity pricing in the country has not been strategic enough hence the consistent outrage from electricity consumers.
He said: “The commercial arguments may be strong, but there is a social context to be reckoned with, especially given the kind of product in question.
“The economy is currently in a recession, purchasing power has been significantly eroded across all income classes, the poverty situation has been worsening and there is spiraling inflation. There are fresh concerns about a resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These contexts should have a moderating effect on price movement at this time, especially for a product of high social significance. It is important to take these factors into account in order not to put the entire reform process at risk.” the LCCI DG said.