• Probe DISCOs over high billings

House of Representatives yesterday moved to halt the payment of N2.7 billion to the board members of Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC.
It has, therefore, mandated its Committee on Power to probe the alleged approval of N2.7 billion severance package to the NERC board members currently under the chairmanship of Dr. Sam Amadi. The House resolution was sequel to a motion of urgent national public importance sponsored by Hon. Mohammed Gololo (APC, Bauchi).
In his lead debate, Gololo described as unconstitutional the board’s approval to pay its outgoing members N2.7 billion severance package, adding that it was not authorized by the National Assembly in the 2015 Appropriation Act.
He pointed out that the move was in conflict with the recommendations of the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission as well as in variance with Section 42 (1) (a) and (b) of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act.
The lawmaker informed his colleagues that the commission had no recurrent expenditure in the 2015 budget.
He, however, suggested that the commission should either desist from paying salaries to its board members and staff or pay salaries from funds that had not been paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation.
Meanwhile, the House has commenced investigation into activities of the Electricity Distribution Companies, DISCOs as it relates to infrastructure and billing.
Sequel to this, the ad-hoc committee chaired by Hon. Baajime Adegoke has invited the Bureau of Public Enterprise, BPE to review the commercial terms of the sold DISCOs as well as NERC with a view to testify.
The terms of the ad-hoc committee is: to find out the methodology used in verifying investment claimed by DISCOs, the billing process, evidence/proof that NERC is performing its functions appropriately and in the interest of Nigeria customers, evidence of consumer satisfaction, challenges and problems faced by NERC in carrying out its functions and justification for the proposed tariff increase.
The ad-hoc committee has also requested that NERC suspends the implementation of any increase in electricity tariff until the committee concludes its investigation.
The DISCOs are also expected to brief the committee on plans on recovery of investment, detailed of consumer indebtedness, outstanding credits due to consumers, problems and prospects in the industry.
It would be recalled that the House set up an ad-hoc committee on October 15, 2015 to probe the activities of DISCOs as it relates to infrastructure and billing.

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