Chineme Okafor in Abuja
Following its disagreement with electricity distribution companies (Discos) over the accumulated electricity bills owed by its agencies, the federal government said it would henceforth adopt a new payment mechanism for the settlement of the monthly electricity bills of its Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
This was contained in a report presented by the Special Assistant on Power to the President, Damilola Ogunbiyi, on the status of an ongoing MDAs debts verification.
The report, which was presented to stakeholders at the 13th edition of the monthly power sector operators’ meeting held at Transcorp Power, Ughelli in Delta State, indicated that while the government has accepted to pay off debts owed to the Discos by its MDAs after verification, going forward, it would however pay the electricity bills of its MDAs on the basis of metered amounts.
This is an indication that the government would after verifying the debt claims of the Discos, impress it on them to provide its MDAs with meters from which payments for electricity consumption would be made as against payments based on estimated bills.
Ogunbiyi in her presentation explained that the MDAs were the largest collective debtor to the Discos. She noted that to ensure sufficient liquidity of the Discos, the government has committed to clear debts owed them.
She however said: “In addition, the FGN has committed to putting an appropriate mechanism in place to ensure bills are paid on a timely basis moving forward – centralised payment system, after appropriate verification moving forward, pay bills based on metered amounts.”
According to her, the process of verifying the debt claims of the Discos have been segmented into six, starting with Discos submission of their claim template and invoices, and ending with physical verification of claims to confirm consumption amounts and payment history.
She noted that so far, all the 11 Discos have submitted their claims invoices, out of which a total of N59/3 billion was derived, but that only the invoices submitted by Abuja Disco have been subjected to Optical Character Recognition (OCR) testing to amongst other objective create an invoice database from which claims could be compared for discrepancies.
Ogunbiyi stated that out of N11.3 billion claims of Abuja Disco, the federal government accumulated 85 per cent of the claims while the state and local governments accumulated the balance.
Of the 85 per cent debt claims, the ministry of defence, federal capital territory, interior, National Assembly, presidency, education, petroleum and finance accumulated a huge chunk of it, while the balance was shared between other MDAs of the federal government within the Abuja Disco.
The presentation also listed Mambila and Lungi Barracks, Commanding Officer Mess, Mogadishu Barracks, Ironsi Cantonment and Niger Barracks as some of the barracks and defence formations with high debt figures.