Ediri EJOH

THE House of Representatives has tasked electricity distribution companies, Discos, to intensify efforts to collect debts being owed by government agencies and parastatals, instead of complaining about their inability to do so.

The Chairman House Committee on Power, Hon. Daniel Asuquo, who spoke with Sweetcrude in an exclusive interview, wondered why the Discos are unable to collect their bills from these organisations, even when they are aware that provisions are made in the country’s budgets for such annually.

He therefore tasked the operators to disconnect government institutions that failed to pay their bills, just as they do to regular customers, while stressing that it is the only way they can continue in business.

According to Asuquo, “The Discos must go all out to collect payment for electricity bills from all their customers whether they are government agencies or not.

“They must run the Discos as business and stop waiting for government directive and intervention to be able to collect debt owed by government institutions that consume their products.

“How do they collect bills from the ordinary consumers? They should deploy the same strategy in recovering debts owned by government agencies.”

The lawmaker also noted that the current government has made provision in the 2016 budget for such bills, and promised that the House will do all it can to ensure that the outstanding debts owed the Discos are settled during the year.

Recall that a lot of government agencies including the military and paramilitary agencies reportedly owe the Discos billions of Naira.

Specifically, debts owed by the military and ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), rose from N32 billion to N45 billion as at the end of 2015.

The Executive Director, Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors, ANED, Otumba Sunday Oduntan, noted that owing to the difficulty in collecting the debts, the distribution companies are discussing with the Presidency on ways and means of offsetting the debts.

He noted that the money is needed to purchase equipment such as meters, among others, and also run operations to serve the customers better.

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