|Senator Ben Murray Bruce
The Senate Committee on Privatisation said it is not in support of outright cancellation of power sector privatisation, as being clamoured.
Senator Ben Murray Bruce, the Committee Chairman, said rather, the senate is interested in assessing how the exercise has fared as a tool of government either in terms of failure or success in its entirety.
In this regard, the Committee said it plans to hold a public hearing with a view to ascertaining what the issues are.
Bruce made the disclosure when he led members of his committee and a team from the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), on a fact-finding visit to the Benin Electricity Distribution Plc (BEDC) last week.
Bruce said: “We are not in favour of outright cancellation of the process. If a bad deal was done in some areas let us fix it and move on. The Committee’s intention is to look at how to fix problems of privatisation. In other words, what can be done to solve the problems.”
He added that “the Committee will soon organise a Public Hearing at the National Assembly, featuring Discos, the regulators, customers, and other arms of the value chain to review the privatisation process of the power sector, with a view to fixing emerging problems and make the exercise work better in the interest of all Nigerians.”
He also said he was familiar with some of the challenges of the industry, pointed out that he was surprised about how the industry was being owed about N900billion even when power generation was very low.
He also said he was aware that federal government was yet to fully honour its obligations to the Discos, and that they could not collect tariff at prevailing market rate due to high foreign exchange rate and the economic recession, but was more interested in what could be done to salvage the situation.
He explained that some of the problems confronting Discos were unforeseen, saying: “nobody knew there was going to be an economic recession, or Naira devaluation of this magnitude,” which is why the Committee is embarking on fact-finding tours to assess how far the process was performing.