By Audrey Lotechukwu
MON, 28 SEPT, 2020-theGBJournal-The Federal Government (FG) has a established a Technical Committee on Electricity Tariff policy amidst dispute with the organised labour unions in the country over the recent reforms in the petroleum and electricity sectors that led to increase in prices.
The Committee will be chaired by the Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, (SAN) and comprises Federal Government MDAs, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC).
The Committee is the outcome of lengthy consultation meetings between the federal government and the organised labour held on September 15, 24 and 27, 2020 in Abuja to help avert the nationwide strike called by labour unions.
According to a statement issued by the government today, the Committee will work over the next two weeks, starting today, and during this two-week period, the electricity distribution companies (DisCos) will suspend implementation of the electricity tariff adjustments.
The Committee’s mandate will include examining the justification for electricity tariff review and reviewing the deployment of meters and advice the federal government on issues hindering implementation.
The FG underscored its stand on the reforms of the downstream sector in the statement, arguing that the PMS subsidy regime has stifled the sector’s growth.
‘’In addition, the dire financial circumstances of the federation preclude the ability to sustain any subsidy on PMS, and thus makes the deregulation of the sector inevitable.’’
It said the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) will expedite rehabilitation of its refineries, with a 50% completion target for Port Harcourt by December 2021, adding that the NNPC group will integrate national leadership of NUPENG and PENGASSAN into the steering committee already established to oversee the rehabilitation exercise.
Besides, a validation team comprising of the representative of the NNPC, Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), NUPENG and PENGASSAN will be established to monitor the progress of the rehabilitation of the refineries, pipelines and depot networks, and to advice the steering committee periodically.
The statement said ‘’the government will continue to facilitate licensing and delivery of new modular and regular refineries, ensure delivery of 1 million CNG/LPG autogas conversion Kits, storage skids and dispensing units under the Nigeria Gas Expansion Programme, by December 2021 and a government structure for this project will be established, and will include Labour representatives.’’
It said the federal government will work to facilitate removal of tax on minimum wage, make available to 133 CNG/LPG-driven mass transit buses immediately, for use in major cities nationwide, and thereafter extend to all states and local governments before December 2021.
Again, the ongoing FG Housing initiatives will have 10% allocated to Nigerian works while the moribund National Advisory Council (NLAC) will be revived before the end the of 2020, to institutionalize dialogue and engagement on socio-economic and labour issues to forestall future crises.