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PHCN: Investors groan over delayed hand-over, failure to collect revenue

By Efe Ebelo / Abuja

Prs. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan

Prs. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan

Core investors in the Federal Governments power privatisation exercise have expressed their anger over the continued collection of revenue from Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) by the Federal Government after they had duly paid 100 per cent for the companies.

But sources within the Bureau of Public enterprise (BPE) insist that they cannot claim ignorance of the fact that they are not entitled to collect any revenue till the formal handover of the companies to them on November 1.

President Goodluck Jonathan had late September handed over share certificates and licenses to new core owners of PHCN successor companies, promising that better days await the nation’s power sector, but the government had delayed the formal handover of the companies ostensibly to give it time to resolve all the labour related issues.

On the thorny labour issues, Jonathan said, “carefully worked out measures are being taken to address all other issues, particularly the resolution of labour-related issues. In partnership with the labour unions, we have been able to come up with an outcome that is beneficial for all stakeholders. The payment of all labour-related benefits commenced in August this year, and is almost concluded as a condition precedent to today’s event.

“It is important to say to our labour partners, who we know to be patriotic Nigerians that they should not nurse a feeling of displacement, but dwell on the tremendous possibilities that the revitalisation of the sector holds for them and the future. I thank them for partnering with the government through the reform process and urge them to continue in this spirit for the greater good of all Nigerians.”

So far, the BPE has revealed that it has released a total of N342.8 billion to the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) for the payment of the severance package of workers of PHCN.

Also, 40,093  workers of PHCN have so far been cleared and their names forwarded to the OAGF for payment in the on-going  exercise for the payment of severance benefits to the workers.

Giving an update on the exercise at the weekend in Abuja while addressing Transitional Chairmen of the PHCN Successor Companies, the Director General of BPE, Mr. Benjamin Dikki said the figures represented payment to 84 per cent of the entire workforce of the former state monopoly.

He said the schedules of payments which were transferred to the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation by the BPE in six batches, cuts across workers at the PHCN Headquarters, the Generation Companies (GENCOs), Distribution Companies (DISCOs) and the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).

But the core investors posit that since most of the funds used in the payments were sourced from banks, government should expedite action on whatever issues that were pending so as to allow the owners take possession as quickly as possible.

“I think initially the government was quite slow with the negotiations. How do you expect people to source money from banks at such high interests rate and they would not be handed over what they have bought more than two months after because you have not played your own part well.

“Who pays for these interests that are already accumulating when we have not even been handed over what we paid for? I think it is a very sad situation, those involved should have taken all these into consideration, bearing in mind the fact that investors have sourced money from banks to pay for these assets. We are only hoping that by the time we take over on November 1, we would be allowed to work unlike what happened to Manitoba Hydro,” one of the investors stated.