THIS is the concluding part of Labour Vanguard’s interview with Mr Joe Ajaero, General Secretary of the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, wherein he spoke on the power distribution companies, DISCOs, and who he said are shortchanging Nigerians. The second part was published earlier. In this, Ajaero speaks on, among others, issues of pre-paid metres, service charge among others. Excerpts.
By Victor Ahiuma-Young
CONSUMERS want to buy pre-paid metres
Apart from buying, there are various ways if actually they want to metre the country, but does it favour them? Does it make economic sense to an investor who wants to maximise profit?
If you were in their shoes would you not do the same? Nonetheless, there are different metre companies that are coming up. You see PHCN in Kaduna, for instance, used to have one metering company. I think they equally sold it and it stopped production.
Ordinarily, you can’t be talking of building power plants without talking of building factories that produce metres. But even the ones that are producing metres they are not patronising them because of these factors that I mentioned. But let me even say this.
At a period when pre-paid metres would be in every house, they would be subjected to manipulations. In some countries they are fighting metre manipulations. If you check your phone now may be whether you use one minute or 30 seconds they charge you for one minute.
Those kind of practices are common. So, when eventually they take over all the houses the way they are running now is not the way they will run. This is what is happening in some countries of the world.
But we are saying for the time being, we need these pre-paid metres because there is usually a section the regulatory commission or ministry of power that stipulates that their job is to inspect for standard. So, we have what we call metre test stations all over the country.
Issue of service charge: The issue of service charge is like, if I go to a hotel now to spend a night they will charge me service charge; they will charge me VAT (Value Added Tax). PHCN Building at Awolowo Road was lost to Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) because they asked for all those VAT.
It was because of the interest on the VAT not remitted, not the principal. That is from one government agency to the other. Now, if you can treat one government agency like this they will do everything humanly possible to collect VAT, collect service charge because they are under pressure from somewhere. I don’t know how to explain what is going on in this present dispensation and how they factored in fixed charge. I don’t know. The fixed charge if you look at it, it is for that metre, pole and for that wire you see in your house; that is the analysis they gave.
Or if you are not going to be around for two months you tell them so that they will take their wire out for that two or three months so that you will not have fixed charge. But for that wire to be there, day and night, standing there, there is a charge you have to pay for it. Read full on Vanguard