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‘DisCos’ unfair practices by killing Nigerian businesses’

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Photo: SCAN

Unfair business practices by electricity companies, especially the Distribution Companies (DisCos) yesterday, raised concerns in Abuja as stakeholders, including small and medium scale enterprises, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) and the Association for Public Policy Analysis (APPA) seek leeway.

The stakeholders, who insisted that projected economic development in the country through SMEs faces daunting challenges if urgent actions were not taken to address the unfair practices.

The industry players spoke at a consultative meeting of Business Membership Organisation (BMOs) recognised by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) and organised by APPA.

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Some of the BMOs at the meeting, especially the National Association of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises of Nigeria (NAMSAMEN), Association of Women in Trade and Agriculture (AWITA) and others expressed dissatisfaction over-estimated billing, extortion, erratic power supply and other issues as killers of emerging businesses in the country.

Representative of FCCPC at the event, Bridget Etim affirmed the plight of the business owners, stressing that the commission has been overwhelmed with complaints of unwholesome practices by the power companies and have evidence of gross unfair practices.

“Electricity consumers have been shortchanged in so many areas in the country,” Etim said, adding that there was a need for massive awareness as lack of knowledge about consumers’ right continues to fuel the poor treatment.

National President of APPA, PrinceWill Okorie stated that the prevailing practices in the power sector negate the provisions of extant regulations, adding that overbilling of consumers, particularly against approved methodology, collection of revenue without supply, non or untimely maintenance of faults, disobedience to provisions of consumer service standard of performance for the DisCos and others persist in the sector.

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The development, according to him is fueling inflation, poverty, hindering loan repayment and remained leading reasons for the high cost of production.

Okorie insisted that there was a need for the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission to live up to expectations, adding that they should ensure that business owners understand the performance standards development in the sector along with extant regulations.

He equally noted that capacity development, as well as awareness, would drastically reduce the unfair treatment as consumers need to stand against ill-treatment by the utility companies.

National President of NAMSAMEN, Prof. Barika Saro-Laka said there was a need to fully liberalize the sector, noting that NERC must up its games.

He said there was a need to concentrate mass metering in rural communities where violations of extant regulations could be more.

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