Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Energy Commission owes contractors N5.78bn – DG

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The Energy Commission of Nigeria, ECN, says the commission owes contractors a total sum of N5.78 billion for constituency projects executed between 2009 and 2012 capital projects.

Prof. Eli Bala, Director-General of ECN, made this known while defending the commission’s 2022 budget before the House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology on Thursday in Abuja.

He said that the commission had, however, earmarked the sum of N40 million to service the debt in the coming fiscal year.

The DG said that as a result of inadequate funding of the commission, the Debt Management Office, DMO, should take over the debt.

“The commission had incurred a heavy debt of about N5.78 billion owed contractors for constituency projects executed between 2009 and 2012 capital projects.

“We have made a provision of just about N40 million, so that when we are taken to court we will at least show the court that government is willing to pay but there is the issue of scarcity of funds.

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“So we made provision of about N40 million to payment of outstanding debts; it is mainly National Assembly members debts between 2009 and 2012,’’ he said.

He said that the commission is faced with inadequate physical infrastructure at the headquarters and completion of permanent sites of three research centres in Bauchi, Ilorin and Lagos.

Mr Bala said that in 2021, a total of N7.63 billion was appropriated to the commission of which N5.30 billion was allocated for capital expenditures, N246.14 million was earmarked for overhead and N2.08 billion for personnel.

He said that for 2022, a total sum of N9.71 billion was appropriated of which N7 billion was for capital expenditures, N358.55 million for overhead and N2.35 billion for personnel cost.

Earlier, the Chairman of the committee, Beni Lar (PDP-Plateau) urged the ECN to use its 2022 budgetary allocation to empower youths to curb insecurity in the country.

She said that the committee’s focus in this 2022 budget was to see direct transfer of profitable and technical renewable energy skills to Nigerian youths.

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“Therefore, Energy Commission of Nigeria can no longer afford to shelf its expertise that can beneficially empower our teeming youth populace.

“The Commission, no doubt, has popularised the adoption and penetration of renewable energy use in Nigeria but must now deploy workable strategies to inculcate lives skills set to our working age groups particularly the youth for meaningful economic livelihood on renewable energy resources.

“We urge ECN to use 2022 budget to empower the youths thereby reducing the prevailing high unemployment rate and rising violent crimes ravaging the nation. This is a joint task that must be done and quickly too,’’ she said.

Mr Lar said that the committee with renewed vigor will strategically and consistently engage ECN to birth a new, reliable and futuristic source of foreign exchange earner for Nigeria with the renewable energy sector.

She said that the management of ECN must look beyond the meager budgetary allocation, seek alternative funding platforms, create avenue for synergies and tap into global funds for the development of cleaner, renewable energy sources.

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“It is for this reason that your amendment bill that is before us, the EC Act, is one this committee has reviewed and by the grace of God will pass third reading very soon.

“This bill does not only seek to improve your budgetary allocation, it seeks to give you 0.5 per cent of monies from the carbon taxes to come to you directly.

“This will go a long way to improve the capacity of the commission, it will go a long way to improve the performance ensure that every nuke and crannies of this country is provided with alternative sources of renewable energy so that Nigerians do not have to go through the crisis of inadequate power supply.

“This will address these challenges if the funds are well utilized when the bill is passed,’’ she said.

NAN

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