Electricity: New tariff is pro-poor- Media practitioner

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By Chioma Ugboma

Mr Dapo Okubanjo, Member of the Independent Media and Policy Initiative (IMPI), says the recent hike in electricity tariff for some users is a pro-poor development and not a burden on majority of Nigerians.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Federal Government through the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC),  announced an increase in tariff for users under the Band A category effective April 3.

The new rates meant a hike from N67 per kilowatt-hour to N225 per kilowatt-hour, translating  to a 241KW increase for the users.

Okubanjo, in a statement on Tuesday in Lagos noted that  the reports issued by the NERC showed that subsidy on electricity tariff was still largely intact.

According to him, what the regulatory body did is in response to demands by electricity distribution companies (DisCos) for a cost-reflective price regime,  amounting to a partial removal of subsidy.

He noted that the development only affected 15 per cent of electricity users or about 1.5 million consumers who, on paper, enjoyed 20+ hours of electricity supply daily, have property or live within Band A of the power distribution scheme.

Okubanjo said the implication was that the vast majority of 200 million Nigerians from Nyanya to Awka, and from Zungeru to Odi were not affected by what had been misrepresented in the public domain.

“In the midst of the brouhaha over electricity tariff, feelers soon emerged that it was President Bola Tinubu, in apparent acknowledgement of the current high cost of living, insisted that majority of Nigerians be spared the agony of paying more for electricity.

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“It is, to all intents and purposes, a deliberate pro-poor initiative to increase liquidity in the sector.

“This is truly remarkable against the backdrop of the N3.3 trillion annual expenditure on energy subsidy and this is in spite of the need to ease pressure on public finances.

“So, for the President, it is better to have the top 15 percenters of electricity consumers who consume about half of total power distributed to bear the brunt of a new tariff.

“That will see a reduction in the subsidy regime by about N1.4 trillion while the remaining 85 per cent continue to enjoy energy subsidy,” he said.

Okubanjo also urged the general public to curb misinformation about the development and understand that the average Nigerian is being shielded.

He recalled that the President’s common phrase shortly after assuming office, “Let the poor breathe. Don’t suffocate them”, affirmed his preparedness to shield the less privileged in the society from the harsh effect of reforms.(NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

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Edited by Vivian Ihechu

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