On Monday, members of the House of Representatives questioned the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) on the use of N11.8 billion spent on furniture and fittings to complete the ongoing office partitioning, the training and data collection technology.
Legislators expressed concerns while reviewing the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) 2023-2025 and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) of various MDAs, also questioned the sum of N2 billion proposed for a undetermined number of computer equipment in the 2023 budget. proposal.
Some of the contentious subtitles include: N1.3 billion for furniture to complete the ongoing office partitioning, N3.5 billion for IT equipment and training and N5 billion for collection technology data, among others.
Speaking at the engagement, Hon. Stanley Olajide, who questioned the duplication of projects implemented in the 2022 Appropriation Act, observed that the N3.5 billion proposed for IT equipment and training in the 2023 budget proposal.
He said, “Looking at your projections for 2023, you have around N2 billion to spend on IT equipment. In 2022, what hardware do you have?
“Also in 2021 what do you have because we’re going to lend money to fund that budget or if you’re not going to spend that money it could be revenue for the government. How much of that can hang on: 2 billion naira for IT equipment and about a point something billion for training, what is the value of money spending that 3 billion naira in 2023? If you have done something like that in 2022, why still 2023?”
For his part, the Hon. Sada Soli, who questioned the sum of N650 million proposed for 5 retired staff members in the 2023 budget proposal, said: “Of course the actuarial valuation analyzes the staff of the commission and the time which they are going to leave. So we fund the account to make sure there are enough funds when the staff leaves.
“Now the 150 million naira is not going into the fund, but it is additional pension expenses that are incurred and are not part of what is paid into the fund.”
While responding, NERC Chairman Sanusi Garba, who argued that spending 5 billion naira on computers was even quite insufficient, noted that computers were needed for data aggregation from sources.
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“Sir. Mr. MP, in the regulation of public services, information is essential. We do not want to rely on information coming from our licensee. So, we strongly study the technology in order to have credible information on quality of service. Without technology, you wouldn’t know that our feeders are so, so closed, say for 48 hours, that people are in the dark. Over the next few years we will be investing heavily in data aggregation technology.
“In 2021 the budget for computers not just hardware but also software was 1.5 billion naira and we are spending 2.5 billion naira in 2023 and 1 billion naira in 2025 and we will do with that .
“For example, 33kv feeders, 11kb feeders nationwide, we would like to be able to see what’s going on in all feeders directly from the commission, not relying on DISCOS to tell you that we have provided this and So 5 billion naira in technology today is really nothing If you say we don’t spend the money it becomes a surplus The way it works is that we don’t budget it, so we don’t take it from the market, so we don’t spend it and then we give it to the CRF.
“Going further in the field of technology may not be appropriate, given the limited time. We invest heavily in servers for the aggregation of data from all feeders in the country. And then the software itself, we talk to funds like Oracle and so on for the corporate resources that we put into the commission itself. We put ERP. We are going to have a meter management system where we will see what is happening across the country.
“Mr. Member, spending 5 billion naira on IT is absolutely nothing. Let me give you an example, the case of a DISCO who recently spent over 2 billion naira on a simple data management system. customers. Now we don’t manage the feeders, but what we are interested in is collecting data on what is going on there. 5 billion naira is nothing. That’s why I tell you offered to bring you the feasibility studies.
While talking about the revenue projections from 2023 to 2025, he revealed that the sum of “22.4 billion naira with an operating surplus of 2.1 billion naira. In 2024, revenue will increase slightly to N23.5 billion and the operating surplus will decrease to N1.1 billion. The reason is simply that we are motivated as much as possible to reduce the consumer rate burden due to affordability concerns.
“In 2025, revenue increases by 24.7 Naira and the operating surplus reaches 1.4 billion Naira. I repeat that the surpluses are decreasing because we want to reduce the tariff burden on consumers. the federal government subsidizes the tariff to some extent.In the past few years the subsidies were in the range of 5 billion naira.So we don’t want to add extra charges and that’s why the surplus goes down if we let’s move forward,” he said.
In his address, the Deputy Chairman of the House Finance Committee, the Hon. Saidu Abdullahi, who questioned the Commission for failing to make the necessary payments to the Treasury, asked for details of various transactions, just as he insisted on the need for prudent use of public funds.
“Going forward, we expect you to hand over your CRF. Speed up the reconciliation process. We can’t afford to have money hanging somewhere when we’re getting more than our money’s worth. NERC, I think we need to order a reconciliation that will involve the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC), which will make it comprehensive.
“We cannot afford to isolate the commission from this exercise. You have by Monday of next week to make the connection.
“The bottom line is to tell you that not only are we interested in how much you contribute to the CRF, but we are also interested in how prudently those resources are spent.
“If we have the details, it will put us on the right pedestal to appreciate what you plan to do. I think in the future it will be good to give details of anything, especially if it is a huge amount. The Committee will be interested in knowing what you do with what,” he said.