By Anthony Isaac
Confusion over the status of the recent electricity tariff increase by the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) deepened on Monday as the Chairman of the commission, Prof James Momoh declared that the review was not binding yet on operators in the sector.
The Association of Nigeria Electricity Distributors (ANED) has however, claimed that the new tariff would begin April 1, 2020, in line with NERC’s directive.
Momoh, who addressed a press conference in Abuja on Monday said consumers were not facing immediate hike in electricity tariff as the new Multi Year Tariff Order (MYTO) published by the Commission was an internal document between the regulator and the operators.
NERC had last Saturday published a minor review of MYTO on its official website indicating new rates for electricity across the 11 electricity distribution companies (DisCos).
Momoh told journalists that the publication did not amount to immediate tariff hike as consultations with stakeholders including consumer groups have to be made for the rate to become effective.
He said: “Let me tell you my mindset on this, and I will say it in three bullets; there is no immediate increase in tariff for customers.
“Two, the proposed tariff review is what we are mandated to do as a regulator. We are to do it twice a year. We did the first one around June, January this year too. We have no other option than to do our job. We have done the review and it is subject to public consultation.
“In the next three months, Dr. (Usman) Arabi, all the commissioners and myself will be running from place to place to inform you, to engage on consultation. So number two is there will be consultations.
“We have done our job and we have not said it is binding tomorrow morning, we are going to do consultations. The order is simply a communication of what we have done as a regulator looking at what it takes to decrease or increase tariff.
“If at the end of meeting back and forth, we say no increase, there will be no increase. If there is going to be increase it will be based on our engagement at the public forum”, Momoh explained.
But ANED, the umbrella group for electricity distribution companies in Nigeria, in a statement on Monday said the new tariff will be implemented from April, assuring consumers that tariff would remain the same until then.
“NERC has just reviewed the MYTO 2015 and has published an Order on Tariffs and Minimum Remittance for Jan-June, 2020. The tariffs anticipate changes in the Currency Exchange rates between the United States and Nigeria, changes in the rate of Inflation and Gas prices.
“The Tariffs shall remain the same as they presently are (i.e. 2015 levels) until April 01, 2020 when there will be a slight increment to cater for tariff shortfalls which shall be gradually passed on to the consumer until this is fully completed by the end of 2021.
“In view of the foregoing, we state emphatically that there shall be no change or increase in the existing Electricity tariff until April 01, 2020 when the new adjusted tariffs shall begin to gradually reflect the dynamism of our macro-economy”, the statement added.