- FG Urged to Allow Electricity Customers Own Meters
As electricity consumers in the country continue to complain over estimated billing from the distribution companies, the Federal Government has been urged to liberalise the metering segment of the power sector.
Based on the proposals submitted by the core investors in the Discos during the privatisation of the power firms in November 2013, 6.52 million new meters were expected to be installed over the course of five years.
But three and a half years after the privatisation, many of the Discos have been unable to meet their metering obligations under the Performance Agreements with the Bureau of Public Enterprise.
According to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, only 3.39 million customers have electricity meters as of December 2016 out of 7.47 million customers in the country.
The Discos promised to install 1.754 million meters last year but only 215,424 meters were made available to their customers, while over 50 per cent of customers remain unmetered.
Under existing regulations, Discos have the prerogative to provide meters to their customers and own the meters.
The Executive Secretary, Electricity Meters Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Muideen Ibrahim, said the deregulation of meter ownership would enable consumers to procure and own meters.
He said, “We have always been advocating that the government should liberalise the metering arm of the power sector so that everybody can have access to meters. If every consumer has prepaid meter, they will manage their electricity consumption and the Discos will collect revenue maximally.
“But now the consumers are short-changed because they are being given estimated bills. It presupposes that the Discos are smiling to the bank where as the consumers are suffering. Unfortunately, some of the Discos are complaining that they don’t have the fund to invest massively in metering, whereas the meters are readily available in the various warehouses of the manufacturers.”
Ibrahim said if metering was liberalised, it would enhance revenue generation for the meter manufacturers, the Discos and even the government in the long run because more people would come into the sector.
He stressed the need to have a metering summit where all the stakeholders would gather to discuss the challenges being faced by the Discos and meter manufacturers.
“Manufacturers have invested massively in meters; unfortunately, they don’t have enough patronage for them to do more,” Ibrahim said
The Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors, the umbrella body for the Discos, has said it is not opposed to the deregulation of meter ownership.
The Chief Executive Officer, ANED, Mr. Azu Obiaya, told our correspondent that the Discos had been working hard to meet their five-year metering plan despite the challenges associated with their inability to recover the cost of doing business.
He said, “There is no party more interested in comprehensive metering than the Discos because our ability to meter the customers means that we take away the alienation of customers thinking that they are not rightly billed; so customers are able to track their consumption. But it also allows us to manage our revenues by tracking the energy that we supply.”
Obiaya stressed the need for adequate investment in order to achieve comprehensive metering.
He, however, said, “That adequacy of investment will not come to pass unless the Discos are able to recover their costs of doing business. Meters cost money and somebody must pay for the meters for them to be provided.”
Asked about the position of the Discos to the call for government to deregulate meter ownership, he said, “The Discos are not against any creative means of filling the metering gap. What the Discos are asking is that they have to be part of the discussions on how to fill the gap. We have to keep in mind that it is the Discos who have to operate the system in terms of billing their customers and have the accounting and technical systems.
“So any arrangement that is in conflict with those systems will be unworkable. The Discos are amenable to exploring the various solutions that will essentially take away the challenges that their customers have right now because they are not metered.”
Samsung, Vision Care Begin Fresh CSR Activities, Earmark 12,000 Masks for Nigeria
Samsung Heavy Industries Nigeria Limited (SHIN) and Vision Care, an international relief organization dedicated to the prevention of blindness, have launched fresh Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative to help Nigeria mitigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
Vision Care is a member of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), and participant of ‘VISION 2020’, a global initiative of the IAPB and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Vision Care has since conducted more than 25 Vision Eye Camps yearly and has grown into an international non-profit organisation serving 38 countries throughout Asia, Africa and Central-South America.
Since 2015, SHIN has worked with Vision Care in the yearly Eye Camp as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to provide free cataract surgeries to Nigerians who cannot afford the payment. SHIN has been sponsoring the eye surgeries of Nigerians on a yearly basis.
In 2019, SHIN sponsored the eye surgeries of at least 115 Nigerian patients and 224 outward patients as part of its CSR in Nigeria.
Since it started the programme, SHIN has sponsored the eye surgeries of 572 Nigerian patients, 1,593 outward patients and has also donated glasses to 99 patients.
Due to outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the yearly Eye Camp for 2021 had been called off to adhere to Federal Government’s measures in response to the virus.
Consequently, SHIN and Vision Care came up with a fresh CSR initiative this year to donate 496 bags of rice (25kg) and 12,000 reusable face masks to three states in the country to fulfill their commitment of contributing to the society.
The items will be delivered later this month.
The three states that will benefit from the donation are Lagos, Kano and Bayelsa states.
Out of the 496 bags of rice, and 12,000 facemasks, Lagos will receive 96 bags of rice and 200 masks.
SHIN also stated that Kano State will receive 200 bags of rice and 5,000 masks, while Bayelsa State will get 200 bags and 5,000 masks.
“This is an additional CSR activity from SHI in addition to SHIN’s donation of 5,000 COVID-19 test kits from Korea. The washable masks that the head office has purchased from Korea are certified to retain its effectiveness against COVID-19 transmission for up to 50 washes,” SHIN said in a statement.
Senate Summons NICON, AIICO, Others Over N17.4bn Pension Remittances
The Senate Public Accounts Committee has summoned the management of the NICON Insurance Plc, AIICO Insurance and other insurance companies over their alleged failure to remit N17.4bn pension fund to the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate.
The Senate hinged the summon on the 2016 report of the Auditor-General for the Federation which unraveled the alleged non-remittance of N17.4bn pension fund to PTAD.
Appearing before the panel on Monday, the Executive Secretary of PTAD, Dr Chioma Ejikeme, informed the lawmakers that PTAD took over the assets and liabilities of the defunct pension offices without a formal handing over.
She said, “On taking over, the directorate wrote all underwriters to make returns and remit whatever amount that was in their custody into a CBN dedicated account.
“Some of the underwriters responded to the request while some did not.
“The bank certificate of balances, accounting statements, three years financial statements and policy files requested by the federal auditor were not handed over to PTAD at the time of consolidation.
“It is worthy to note that we discovered that N17.4bn which comprised of cash, securities and properties from the nine insurance underwriters was unremitted as a result of the letter PTAD sent to them.
“These figures represent the claims by the underwriters with regards to their indebtedness.
“In order to ascertain the true position of legacy funds in custody of underwriters, the directorate appointed a consultant in 2018 who carried out forensic audit of nine out the 12 insurance underwriters and produced a final report on the recovery of the legacy funds and assets for PTAD.”
Sterling Homes Plans To Reduce Housing Deficit
Sterling Homes Limited has said it is committed to working with the government through private public partnership to reduce housing deficit in all the geo-political zones in the country.
The Managing Director, Mr Kunle Adeyemi, said this during an event on the company’s rebranding organised as part of its 10th year anniversary in Lagos on Friday.
During the event, the company while expressing commitment to excellence and customer satisfaction, unveiled its new logo with colours to define its mission and objections.
“We want to be present in all the six geo-political zones on Nigeria by providing affordable luxury homes, excellent torch. So for us, there is a need for us to rebrand and have a new direction and vision.
“We want to partner with the government on the present housing deficit; we want to embrace a public, private partnership with the government to reduce the deficit in every geo-political zone.”
The managing director said that one of its unique selling points was its after sales services which was top notch.
He said it ensured that its customers were taken through the journey of actualising their dreams of becoming home owners.
While noting that everyone deserved to have a comfortable home despite the economic situation, he said it had designed a structure payment plan with zero interest in some cases to help intending home owners.
He said it also had provisions for high breed options and developing areas to accommodate various income levels.
Before the end of the year, he said, Sterling Homes would be establishing new presence and projects in other regions.
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