NERC Records 41% Rise in Power Investors’ Payments for Operational Permits

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  •   Fashola denies diverting $600m meant for Mambilla project

By Chineme Okafor in Abuja

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has said it received more money in 2017 than it did in 2016 from power sector investors who sought for regulatory permits  or renew the licences they held in Nigeria’s power market.

This is coming as the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has denied disrupting the execution of contracts for the construction of the 3,050 megawatts (MW) Mambilla hydro power plant in Taraba State by allegedly seeking to divert $600 million from the project’s construction sum for other uses.

According to NERC, it received in 2017, N538.219 million from investors as payments for new permits and renewal of permits, as against N382.708 million it got in 2016. This represented an increase of N155.511 million or 40.6 per cent.

These figures were contained in latest audited financial statement of the commission for the year 2017 which was posted yesterday on its webpage.

The financial statement was reportedly prepared and submitted to the NERC by accounting firm -Delloitte&Touche, in November 2018.

The report was also signed by three commissioners of the NERC –  Sanusi Garba, who is the vice chairman of NERC; Dafe Akpeneye, commissioner for legal, licencing and enforcement; and Nathan Shatti, commissioner for finance and management services.

NERC equally noted that it recorded an increase in the amount of money accruable to it from the total revenue of the country’s electricity market, from N8.078 billion in 2016, to N8.661 billion in 2017.

According to it, it is statutorily entitled to 1.5 per cent of tariff charges per kilowatt hour (kWh) from power generation companies (Gencos) and another 1.5 per cent of licensee’s charges per kWh net of the cost of generation and transmission of electricity.

Another revenue source which the NERC accounted for in its annual financial statement was a N45.750 million grant it got from the MacArthur Foundation, in support of its efforts to improve accountability and public knowledge of the power sector.

Also, the federal government gave it a subvention of N900 million to offset its capital expenditure for the period under consideration. These thus raised NERC’s total income in 2017 to N10.145 billion as against N8.460 billion it got in 2016.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has denied disrupting the execution of contracts for the construction of the 3,050 megawatts (MW) Mambilla hydro power plant in Taraba State by allegedly seeking to divert $600 million from the project’s construction sum for other uses.

Fashola, was recently accused of attempts to divert funds from the project, and that his alleged insistence on same forced the Chinese Exim Bank to hold back funding negotiations on the project.

But in a response to the allegation which his senior special assistant on communication, Mr. Hakeem Bello, sent to THISDAY, the minister claimed the allegations were untrue.

He also claimed the allegations were initiated to tarnish his name and image, adding that: “Nothing is more further away from the truth than the claim that the loan negotiations have stalled since 2017 because of an attempt to utilise $600 million (equivalent of N219 billion) from the 3,050MW hydropower project for a ‘pet project’ not hitherto considered by the Federal Executive Council.”

According to him, the China Exim Bank disburses money to specific projects, adding that on conclusion of negotiations, the loan will be devoted to the construction of the Mambila power plant.

“The allegation with regard to stalling the Mambilla project is untrue and baseless. The events and relevant facts will show that because Mr. Fashola first presented a memo on the Mambilla power project to the Federal Executive Council in August 2017; which was the first ever Federal Executive Council approval given to the Mambilla project in favour of a Chinese Joint venture.

“The minister has also accompanied the president twice to China on trips that had the project as one of the headline agenda. The minister in June 2018 attended, alongside officials of the ministry of finance, a meeting of the China Exim Bank to negotiate the terms of the loan for the project further.

“And only this week, after the Federal Executive Council meeting, he briefed Nigerians about the approval of contracts for surveyors to demarcate the areas for the project. These are the first contracts to start preparatory work on the project after 40 years delay,” the statement explained.