Okechukwu Nnodim, Abuja
The federal government subsidizes electricity supplies across the country in the amount of over N50 billion a month, Power Minister Sale Mamman said.
He said spending on subsidies was because the government was concerned about the constant complaints of ordinary Nigerians about the inevitable and periodic increase in electricity costs.
Mamman said funds to increase the deficit were provided by power companies that failed to cover the costs of bulk electricity supplied to them by generating companies.
However, he noted that after a slight increase in the customs regime, the subsidy has now been reduced by half, but that it still represented a serious drain on the national economy.
The minister revealed this while receiving members of the House of Guild of Actors and Film Producers, otherwise known as Kannywood, in his office.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday by his assistant, Aaron Artimas, Mamman expressed concern over the failure of distribution companies to stabilize their operations and meet their financial obligations to other players in the sector.
He said that in response to this unfortunate development, the Federal Government was forced to partially subsidize the sector so as not to put the price of electricity out of the reach of the common man.
He was quoted as saying: “Nigerians must understand that these companies were privatized long before the emergence of this administration, but the government has no alternative but to continue managing the sector before a final solution is secured.
“Through a presidential initiative for power and other intervention measures, the government is working diligently to massively address all of these inherited problems that continually frustrate the success of the sector.”
The Minister said that most of the Discos were sold and managed as family businesses, which made it difficult to manage them professionally.
Mamman said that despite this obvious difficulty, the government cannot withdraw the privatization process.
He told his guests that despite these problems, some progress has been made, as the electricity supply has stabilized at over 5,000 megawatts, compared to less than 4,000 MW.
According to him, Nigerians now enjoy a stable supply of 15 to 24 hours a day, adding that the federal government has committed to delivering over six million meters to Nigerians for free.
About a million meters have already been delivered for distribution while waiting for the rest, Mamman added.
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