Investors to take over PHCN firms next year
Winners of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) successor firms will have to wait a while for their prizes.
Assets of the PHCN will be handed over to the investors January, the Chairman, Presidential Task Force on Power, Becks Dagogo-Jack, has said.
Speaking during a Power Investors Summit in Lagos, Dagogo-Jack said President Goodluck Jonathan only presented shares certificates to the 14 power generation and distribution companies on October 1.
He said the handing over of assets to the investors was delayed till next year because of pending labour issues.
He said the government was aware of the resentments that greeted the unbundling and sale of PHCN, adding that it wanted to ensure workers’ outstandings benefits are paid before the investors take over.
He said: ‘The physical handing over of PHCN’s assets to the investors will take place in January 2014. What the government has done was to present certificates only to the investors. This will be preceded by the declaration of the Transition Electricity Market (TEM).
“The reason we are having a transition market is to enable investors to test the market, make adjustments where necessary and later develop it. The decision to have a bridge transition market was to enable the government and investors to have a clear idea of what is going to happen.”
Also, the Director, Infrastructure Department, International Finance Corporation, Mr Bernard Sheahan, said the institution has concluded arrangements to provide about N1billion loan for the 14 power firms.
“We hope to be financing a number of power generation and distribution companies soon. We are holding discussions with them to provide long-term financing to encourage the growth of the sector.In the last three months, we have been holding discussions with the government on implementation of some gas projects, as well as the transmission aspect of the sector,” he added.
According to him, the assets of PHCN are bankable and suitable for long-term financing initiative which the World Bank has prided itself of.
“It is wrong to say the PHCN’s assets are old and not financeable. We have discovered that the assets are bankable, hence the decision to finance the power firms as part of growth strategies for Nigeria,” he added.
He said the companies have paid for the assets, adding that the next stage for them is to look for more funds from institutions such as AfricanFinance Corporation(AFC), International Finance Corporation (IFC), among others.
Workers of the Benin Zone of the PHCN yesterday found it difficult to collect their September salaries and access their accounts following alleged freezing of their accounts by banks.
It was gathered that the workers were told by bank officials that the decision to freeze their accounts was to prevent hackers because of the entitlements the workers were expecting from the government.
The workers were told return for verification before they could access their accounts.
Secretary of National Union of Electicity Employees (NUEE), Benin Zone, Godwin Etumonu, who confirmed the development to The Nation said the banks should have informed them before taking the step.
“It is sad that we cannot access our September salaries paid by PHCN. Now we are stranded and they have asked us to come personally. What about those travelled or are on sick bed?” he said.
Commending the placards on the gates of PHCN, Benin Zonal Office with inscriptions warning the investors to stay away, Etumonu, said: “We will not allow them to come unless they agreed to accept the liabilities the Federal Government refuses to pay. The PHCN is still in existence until all labour matters are resolved.Over 5,000 casual workers who have worked for over five to 10 years need to be given full employment.”