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Investors want smooth transition for PHCN workers

By on September 21, 2013

The core investors who have bought into the Power Holding Company of Nigeria’s successor companies have asked the government to ensure a seamless transition for workers to be sacked when they take over the firms.

The core investors made the appeal when they met with officials of the Bureau of Public Enterprises in Abuja on Wednesday.

The Chairman, Electricity Distribution Companies’ Roundtable, Mr. Ransome Owan, who confirmed this in an interview with our correspondent in Abuja on Thursday, said the PHCN workers would be given disengagement letters upon the takeover of the successor companies by the core investors.

He added that the core investors, however, wanted the workers to receive new engagement letters from the new owners immediately in order to ensure a seamless transition.

Owan regretted that the interest rates on the money borrowed by the core investors to finance the acquisition of the companies were already running without access to the electricity companies.

He also urged the government to be ready to release the subsidy meant to bridge the gap between the revenue being generated by the electricity distribution companies and the actual cost of power.

Owan said, “The revenue generated by the Discos, which they give back to pay for the energy collected, is not enough. So, there is always a deficit. These new owners that will come are going to inherit this problem of not collecting enough money to pay for the energy they will collect.

“In that case, there will be some gap between the energy sent to them and the revenue that is coming back. Therefore, the government should prepare to release to the sector the subsidy that it is already holding until the collection rate improves. This is the best approach we need today.

“Government has continued to be sympathetic to the needs of the buyers in that they also have some constraints they have to work with. Some of it has to do with the sequence of the payment to the employees in terms of their severance packages and contributions to their retirement accounts.

“The government assured us that all the money needed is now with the Accountant-General of the Federation and the money will soon be released between now and next week. The remaining money is going to be released to be handed over to the employees. We hope they can clear the issue of staff payment. They have given us the assurances.”

Meanwhile, a concerned public commentator, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, has appealed to Vice-President Namadi Sambo, who chairs the National Council on Privatisation, to ensure equity in the sale of the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company.

In a statement made available to our correspondent in Abuja on Thursday, Okechukwu said it was wrong for the BPE to deny Eastern Electric the opportunity to buy into the EEDC when the preferred bidder failed to meet the payment deadline of August 21.

Okechukwu said it was necessary for Sambo to intervene in order to protect the integrity of the privatisation exercise.