Privatisation: Successor PHCN Companies to Remain Afloat Until Handover
The Federal Government has debunked claims that its failure to make budgetary provisions for the operations of successor companies of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) in the 2013 budget may affect efficiency of the companies.
Minister of State for Power, Hajia Zainab Kuchi, stated that the alleged zero financial budgets for the PHCN successor companies was not factual and could not have affected operations of the companies.
Reacting to a postulation that the lack of fund for use by various PHCN successor companies may be amongst possible reasons for the recent fluctuation in power supplies across the country, Kuchi explained that funds for recurrent operations and not capital projects were provided for in the budget for PHCN companies.
She noted that the government would continue to provide for the companies pending their eventual handover to their various preferred bidders.
“Government would not allow any gap or lacuna in the privatisation process; hence the much talked about zero budgets for Discos does not exist. What was not given to them in this year’s budget is funds for capital expenditures because it was envisaged that by now these companies would have been transferred to the new owners; so, you cannot conclude that they are not funded by government; that is not true because we will continue to manage them until they are handed over,” she said.
The minister also explained that government was making progress in its negotiation with members of PHCN labour unions, adding that the joint negotiation committee, which was set up a couple of weeks back to deliberate on outstanding labour relations issues preparatory to the eventual takeover of affairs by successful bidder, are almost done with their assignment.
Kuchi added: “On the few grey areas with severance package for Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) staff members, government has made adequate provisions to pay all outstanding money and we urge Nigerians and stakeholders in the sector to support government policy throughout this transition period.
“The challenge with labour is almost solved because we have made substantial agreements with labour and like earlier said, very soon, we will begin to pay the unions; 35,085 regular staff of the unions have been verified, we are only waiting for the verification of the casuals now.”