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PDP, Others Condemn Increase in Electricity Tariff as NERC Denies Increment

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and other stakeholders have rejected the alleged rise in electricity tariff, even as the regulatory agency denied approving any increase.

There were reports at the weekend indicating that electricity consumers in the country would pay more tariff from April this year, based on a minor review of the Multi Year Tariff Order (MYTO) 2015 and the Minimum Remittance Order (MRO) for 2020 published by Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

NERC has the mandate to implement the Electric Power Sector Reform (EPSR) Act 2005, especially Section 32, which allows it to ensure prices charged by licensees (distribution companies) are fair to customers and sufficient to allow the licensees finance their activities and make reasonable profit for efficient operations.

In August last year, NERC published a minor review of tariff order indicating that from 2020 consumers would pay a maximum N14 addition for every kilowatt-hour of energy, depending on their status and their distribution companies.

While the increase was expected to start from this month, the new order has suspended the directive till April, stating that “the Federal Government’s updated Power Sector Recovery Programme (PSPRP) does not envisage an immediate increase in end-users tariffs until 1st April 2020 and a transition to full cost reflectivity by end of 2021.”

In its reaction yesterday, the PDP described the planned increase as draconian and completely against the interest and wellbeing of Nigerians.

The party charged the Federal Government to immediately rescind what it called “the obnoxious and provocative policy and consult further with Nigerians before any such tariff hike.” It also urged the National Assembly to rescue Nigerians from such a draconian policy by deploying its statutory legislative instruments to call the Federal Government to order in the interest of the nation.

The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, described the alleged increase in electricity tariff as an attempt to worsen “the fleecing of Nigerians, who are already overburdened and groaning under the weight of high costs, economic repression and heavy taxes foisted by the insensitive APC administration.”

According to the opposition party, “It is lamentable that Nigerians, who are already suffering the devastating negative impact of the recent increase in the Value Added Tax (VAT) from five per cent to 7.5 by the APC administration, are now being further suppressed with increased electricity tariff.

“Our party holds that the increase in electricity tariff, under the prevailing harsh economic conditions, is injurious to the wellbeing of Nigerians as it will further stress the productive sector and lead to an upsurge in the cost of regular and essential goods and services, including food, medicine, housing, education and other critical needs.”

It declared that “the APC policy, if allowed, will worsen the suffering of Nigerians as it will put more stress on already overburdened families, cripple businesses, result in job losses and exacerbate the prevailing frightening unemployment rate under the Buhari administration.”

The National Coordinator of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, said the focus of the Federal Government in the beginning phase of the year should not be to impose grave hardship on the populace just coming out of the seasonal festivities of Christmas and New Year but on how quality education could be delivered to millions of the children of Nigerian suffering families that would be returning to schools in the next few days.

“The government should be focused in this New Year on how to improve health care and on how to curb the internal corruption that has destroyed the so-called schools feeding programme instead of President Muhammadu Buhari working day and night to unleash devastating economic strangulation through unsustainable reviewed electricity power tariffs on millions of Nigerians most of whom are unemployed, hungry, sick and poor.

“The Buhari-led administration should be focused on restoring security of lives and property which is the primary duty of government and for which it has failed to discharge instead of rushing to introduce the wicked policy of electricity power hike in January of a fresh decade.”

But the Coordinator of Electricity Consumer Advocacy Network, AbdulHakim Balogun, said that the increase was expected, as provision had been made for such under the law. He, however, stated that the timing might not be appropriate, considering the state of the economy, increase in VAT and pressure on consumers’ disposable incomes.

The Director General of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr. Muda Yusuf, said the power sector problem was multifaceted, adding that the approach to addressing it should be holistic, otherwise the consumers would be vulnerable.

“The tariff question is no doubt one of the problems. But what is NERC doing about the issues of the capacity of the Discos, estimated billing, technical and commercial losses, metering problem, quality and adequacy of investment by the Discos, transmission, proposal on the decentralisation of the sector, promotion of off grid solutions and incentives for renewable energy solutions? All of these need to be addressed in order to inspire the confidence of consumers.

“NERC should protect the interests of consumers as well as those of the investors. There is also the social dimension of electricity provision to those at the bottom of the pyramid. It is also critical to disaggregate and interrogate the components of cost being claimed by the Discos. Already, many small businesses have complained about prohibitive tariffs by Discos following the last review. What is needed is a holistic reform rather than the simplistic solution of tariff review,” he stated.

But the regulatory agency, NERC, said it had not approved any tariff increase yet.

The General Manager, Public Affairs, Mr. Usman Arabi, made the clarification in a statement issued on the agency’s website and obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos yesterday.

Arabi said: “The attention of the NERC has been drawn to the publication in several electronic and print media that end-user electricity tariffs have been increased following the approval of the minor review (2016 – 2018) of the 2015 Multi Year Tariff Order on August 21, 2019.

“We wish to provide guidance that the minor review implemented by the commission was a retrospective adjustment of the tariff regime released in 2015.

“This is to account for changes in macro-economic indices for the years 2016, 2017 and 2018 thus providing certainty about revenue shortfall that may have arisen due to the differential between tariffs approved by the regulator and actual end-user tariffs.

“The commission therefore wishes to notify the general public that no tariff increase has been approved vide the order.”

He said, however, NERC, in the discharge of its statutory responsibilities enshrined under the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, would continue to undertake periodic reviews of electricity tariffs in accordance with the prevailing tariff methodology.

According to him, in all instances of such reviews and rule making, the commission will widely consult with stakeholders and a final decision will take due regard of all contributions.

The Guardian

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…And the Winner of Best Mobile Banking App Award is FirstBank

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First Bank of Nigeria Limited has been named 2019 “Best Mobile Banking App” and “Fastest Growing Retail Bank”  by Global Business Outlook.

The Global Business Outlook Award recognises and rewards excellence in business in companies across the world, both in the public and private sectors. The award rewards innovation, creativity and the drive to create value.

FirstBank earned the Fastest Growing Retail Bank recognition because of its leading role in promoting financial inclusion in the country, a drive which has resulted in its 44,000 Agent Banking network designed to complement the provision of bespoke financial services at its over 750 branches nationwide.

Speaking on the awards, Folake Ani-Mumuney, the Bank’s Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications said, “We appreciate the recognition of these awards by the respective awarding bodies. The awards are dedicated to all our customers across the globe as their continued patronage of our services is appreciated.

We remain steadfast and would not rest on our laurels at rendering bespoke financial services tailored to meet the financial needs of our valued customers, irrespective of where they may be.”

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FirstBank Boosts Education Sector, Supports Schools with N10bn Loan

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Nigeria’s premier and leading financial services provider, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, has announced that within the last year, it has supported educational institutions in the country with loans to the tune of over N10 billion.

The Bank’s support is carried out through its FirstEdu product, an educational solution created to enhance the educational facilities in schools with a view to improving the quality of education across the country.

FirstEdu loan is targeted at private Nursery, Primary and Secondary schools to assist the schools in achieving their desired growth in the medium and long-term. The product provides funding to replace old furniture and equipment, pay staff salaries, purchase brand new or fairly-used buses as well as refurbish dilapidated buildings and classroom blocks. With this product, school owners/proprietors can stay ahead to make learning easy and conducive for students.

The product enables the schools to access facilities with no tangible collateral, apart from domiciliation of school fees account with the Bank.

On the other hand, FirstEdu portal is a modular and robust web-based enterprise portal that enables tertiary educational institutions manage academic, administrative, professional, logistics and payment challenges.

The product features and benefits include; e-Learning, virtual library and facilitation of exchange programmes with foreign educational institutions; academic & student events/time-table/calendar management; school fees payment via the internet; online information and result checking; interactive community forum between students and teachers. It also affords applicants the opportunity of enrolling from the comfort of their homes or any location around the world; no licensing, installation and maintenance cost and plugs avenues for revenue leakages amongst others.

According to Chuma Ezirim, Group Executive, e-Business & Retail Products, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, “With FirstEdu, private schools across the various tiers of education in Nigeria; elementary, secondary and tertiary, have the right tool to boost their business to the level they desire. We are pleased to have already disbursed over N10 billion loans to schools in one year and we would continue to support growth in this key sector of our economy.”

“At FirstBank, we identify with the impact of the educational sector on the socio-economic activities of the country and importantly the lives of everyone. We remain committed to supporting schools as education is the core and root factor at enabling growth of our economy” he concluded.

In need of the right educational solutions to give your school a boost, visit the FirstBank branch nearest to you or contact us on our social media channels; @firstbanknigeria on Instagram; @firstbankngr on twitter and FirstBankofNigeriaLimited on Facebook.

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ECO Crisis: Nigeria, Other Countries Demand ECOWAS Meeting

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Nigeria and six other members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Thursday demanded a crucial extraordinary meeting to discuss the controversial renaming of the CFA Franc as ECO by eight of their counterparts.

The demand was contained in a communique issued at the end of a meeting by the countries, namely Nigeria, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

On December 21, 2019, the eight French-speaking West African countries announced their decision to dump the French CFA Franc for the ECO single currency scheduled to take off this year.

ECO is the name adopted for the common currency of the ECOWAS by the Authority of the Community’s Heads of State and Government at their 55th Ordinary Session in Abuja.

The announcement was made by the Ivorien President, Alassane Ouattara, on behalf of the eight countries, namely Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Togo Republic.

The adoption of the common currency, expected to be issued in June 2020, is part of efforts by ECOWAS to realise its over 30 years’ aspiration to establish a single currency among its members and ensure regional economic integration in the region.

Ghana had applauded the decision of its Francophone counterparts to break from the shackles of the French colonialism to team up with their ECOWAS colleagues.

Many analysts described the French President, Emmanuel Macron’s role in the eight former colonial territories as an attempt to hijack the ECO single currency project.

But, at the end of the extra-ordinary meeting, the Ministers of Finance and the Governors of the Central Banks of the West African Monetary Zone ((WAMZ) on the ECOWAS single currency programme condemned the eight countries for taking a unilateral decision over the issue.

The meeting held at the CBN headquarters in Abuja under the chairmanship of the Minister of Finance and Economy of the Republic of Guinea, Mamadi Camara. The six countries frowned at the conduct of their counterparts.

In the communique issued at the end of the meeting, the finance ministers and Central Bank governors of the six countries said they noted the declaration by the Chairman of the Authority of the Heads of State and Government of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) on December 21, 2019.

The representatives of the affected countries described the “unilateral renaming of the CFA Franc as ECO by 2020 as inconsistent with the decision of the Authority of the Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS for the adoption of the ECO as the name of an independent ECOWAS single currency.”

“WAMZ Convergence Council would be recommending an extraordinary summit of the Authority of the Heads of State and Government of the WAMZ member states will be convened soon to discuss this matter and other related issues,” the communique read.

The English version of the communique was read by the Nigerian Minister of Finance, Budget and Economic Planning, Zainab Ahmed, while the Minister of Economy and Finance of the Republic of Guinea, Mamadi Camara, read the French version.

Other representatives present at the meeting include the Minister of finance and Economic Affairs of the Republic of Gambia, Mambury Njie; Minister of Finance of Ghana, Ofori Atta; Minister of Finance and Development Planning of Republic of Liberai, Samuel Tweah and Minister of Finance of Sierra Leone, Jacob Saffa.

Also, present were Senior Adviser, Central Bank of Gambia, Buah Saidy; Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Ernest Addison; Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele.

Premium Times

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