We are reviewing power privatization….. Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday declared Nigerian government is currently rejigging the 2013 power privatization concluded under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, in the wake of the intractable challenges bedeviling the supply of power to Nigerians.
The President disclosed this at the concluding session of the three-day summit organized by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (#23NES) held in Abuja.
The President was represented by the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed who also declared the summit closed.
“Yes, we have privatized the power sector, but I am sure every Nigerian can attest to the fact that the privatization did not work well in the sense that what we sort to achieve with the power sector privatization has not yet happened.
“We have now come to the point where the government who is also a shareholder and stakeholder as well as investors in the power sector must come together and decide to see some of their holdings, inject new funds and new expertise to enable us grow the power sector that will serve Nigerians better.
“So, that will involve us negotiating with the existing owners and also with government in deciding the right level of holdings that will go on for another round of sale.”
He explained that the review was aimed at opening up the sector for new investors with adequate financial muscle and expertise to play more active role in delivering power, critical to achievement of current economic policy aimed at taking Nigeria out of recession permanently.
According to her, “government has to open up the power sector to new investors” adding that, “the first point of discussions will start with the power distribution companies (DISCOs).”
Ahmed, who stated that government has isolated five critical sectors among which is the power sector, said this will enable it address the most pressing issues in the nation’s economy.
“We are concentrating on power sector reforms because power is key to enabling every other sector to work well within our economy.
“To the extent that we said the power sector will be opened up to a new investment process, it is very clear that no new investor will be coming without a satisfaction with the tariffs in the industry,
“It is very clear that the tariffs we have now is not sustainable, but where the tariffs will go, will be the outcome of negotiations between the government, existing investors, the new investors, as well as the consumers. So we will try to attain an optimal level
Also speaking on the 2018 budget, the Minister said the budget is ready for presentation in this month of October as earlier promised, but said the budget must have to get the approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) first.
“The budget will be presented to the National Assembly in October. That is what we promised and we are on course and on target to do that.
“The budget is ready and will be going through the Federal Executive Council (FEC) first of all for approval before the President will present it to the National Assembly as promised, this October,” Ahmed said.
The Minister however expressed the hope that ” working together with the National Assembly, the 2018 budget will be passed on time in December, so that the January, we start with a fresh budget, going forward.”
TONY AILEMEN & KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja
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