FG May Dribble Organised Labour Over Electricity Tariff Reduction – Insider

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Organised Labour

The Federal Government’s decision to extend the suspension of the new electricity tariff by one week is seen as a “gimmick” to hoodwink the Organised Labour from embarking on any strike action.

An insider in Nigeria Labour Congress, Akwa Ibom State Council who spoke with Straightnews publisher on Monday, October 12 described the suspension of the strike action and setting up of a committee to look into the electricity tariff as mere “gimmick” which may lead to nothing.

The new tariff was earlier suspended for two weeks and ended at midnight on Oct. 11, when the organised labour suspended the planned industrial action over agitation on the hike in electricity tariff on Sept. 28.

It would also be recalled that the committee which was chaired by Mr. Festus Keyamo, Minister of State for Labour and Productivity is to examine the justifications for the new policy in view of the need for the validation of the basis for the new cost reflective tariff.

It was also agreed that while the committee carries the justification that electricity tariff should be reduced for two weeks, though nothing was said about the oil pump price.

TheAkwa Ibom labour marksman expressed disappointment in the NLC failing to address issues affecting the workers in concrete terms, noting that “The labour movement has lost a lot of steam and groundswell of support owing to its compromising stance on issues.”

He expressed regret that the national labour leaders entered into an agreement with the government with no time limit and no specific point to hold the government accountable in case of failing to fulfil any, noting “Since the suspension, the national body has not reached out to us again.”

However, in what appears as dribbling tactics, Prof. James Momoh, Chairman, Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) said the government Sunday announced the extension of suspension of the tariff pending when the ad hoc Technical Committee on Electricity Tariff submitted its interim report at a reconvene bilateral meeting between Federal Government and Organised Labour on Monday in Abuja.

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According to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Momoh while speaking said the one-week extension new tariff said was to enable the committee to review and work out modalities for the implementation of the agreement reached on the electricity tariffs structure.

Sen. Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, while reading a resolution reached between the Federal Government, Organised Labour and the Ad Hoc Technical Committee on Electricity Tariff said that adoption of the work plan for effecting the resolutions has been reached.

Ngige said the resolutions adopted would be implemented by stakeholders within the week by Sunday, October 18. According to him, the following amendments to the resolutions were adopted include, phase one immediate reliefs.

“Using of the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) VAT proceeds to provide relief in electricity tariff. This is to leverage on the VAT from the NESI, the increases experienced by customers due to the transition to the Service Based Tariff will be reduced.

“That is Band A – 10 per cert reduction, Band B – 10.5 per cert reduction and Band C – 31 reduction,” he said.

He said on the acceleration of National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP). It was adopted that for the distribution of the first one million meters, the Ministry of Power was to liaise with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA).

He added that they are to start work by October 12, to accelerate the roll out of meters with a target of December 2020. The minister, therefore said that the meeting agreed that it would work towards bridging the metering gap.

“The Federal Government committed to provide six million meters and NERC is expected to compel the DISCOs to meet the metering needs of the customers,” he said.

Ngige also said on the resolution adopted for the Local procurement for Meters for National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP) that organised Labour would to work with government to improve and ramp up local production capacity.

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He also said that the resolution adopted on salary protection for electricity workers was that NERC should ensure that the personnel costs of electricity workers should be placed on first-line charge on the Primary Collection Account.

He added that the process would commence from Monday, Oct. 12. “On the issue of mandatory refund for any over billing during system transition by the DISCOs that NERC should implement immediately within October.

“While on the freezing of customer band migration during the interim period that the revised NERC order will include specific guidelines on freezing band migration,” he said.

Ngige also noted that the resolutions adopted for Phase two for the extensive review of key sector reforms include that the ad hoc committee would work from Oct. 12 to Dec. 12, to ensure that all outstanding issues are resolved and implemented.

He also said the resolution adopted on gas pricing was that the Group Managing Director was co-opted into the Technical Committee to assist with the purpose. He added that on resource capacity, the Managing Director, NEMSA is also co-opted into the Technical Committee to work with NERC on the metering assignments.