There are strong indications the Nigerian government may consider the request by power distribution companies for a review of their tariff, as the government spending on electricity subsidy has risen to N2.8tn.
A new report by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, obtained by our correspondent in Abuja on Sunday, indicated that past hikes in electricity tariffs by Discos saved the government from paying additional N1tn in subsidy to power firms annually.
The July 2023 NERC report was titled, ‘Overview of the Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry.’
Providing an update on the country’s tariff review journey, the commission stated that “between January 2020 and January 2023, tariff increased from 55 per cent of cost recovery to 94 per cent.
It added, “Without the tariff reviews that commenced in 2019, subsidies payable by the government would have grown to about N1tn per annum by 2023. Service-Based Tariff was instrumental in the transition to cost-reflective levels.”
On subsidy payable, the NERC stated that subsidy (tariff shortfall) paid by the Federal Government between 2015 and 2022 rose to N2.8tn in December last year.
It added that between January and April this year, subsidy on electricity gulped N57bn, adding that the Service-Based Tariff scheme help in reducing the amount spent by the government on power subsidies.
“Annual subsidy reduced from N528bn in 2019 to N144bn in 2022. Subsidy in 2023 year-to-date (January to April 2023) stood at N57bn.
“Service-Based Tariff was instrumental to the reduction of tariff subsidy. The financial burden of tariff subsidies between 2015 and 2022 stood at NGN2.8tn,” the NERC stated.
The yearly hikes in power tariffs by the Federal Government through the NERC have been targeted at ending subsidies on electricity.
The report stated that the NERC disclosed this in a notice, as it said the Discos stated that their reasons for the rate review were premised on factors affecting the quality of service, operations and sustainability of the companies.
Meanwhile, some power distribution companies had announced on Sunday, June 25, 2023, that there would be a hike in tariff, projected to take effect from July 1, 2023.
The Discos, however, backtracked the next day after widespread criticisms, as they stated that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission had yet to approve the hike.
The development caused apprehension among power users at the time, as many prepaid consumers rushed to buy more electricity units in their meters, while anticipating a possible hike in tariff.
It was, however, observed on Saturday, being July 1, 2023, that the Discos did not raise the tariff, an indication that they had yet to get the approval of the power sector regulator.
But in the regulator’s notice, as contained in The PUNCH’s report on Friday, it said, “Pursuant to Section 116 (1) and 2(a&b) of the Electricity Act 2023 and other extant rules, the 11 successor electricity distribution companies have filed an application for rate review with the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission.
“The request for rate review is premised on the need to incorporate changes in macroeconomic parameters and other factors affecting the quality of service, operations and sustainability of the companies.”
However, speaking on the requests by Discos for tariff, on Sunday, a senior official at the NERC stated that the commission would ask the power firms to further state why they were bent on having a hike in tariff during the proposed meeting.
“If you study their (Discos) Performance Improvement Plan, the number of transformers they are supposed to buy, did they buy it? And what is the justification for this increase they are asking for?