The federal government said yesterday that it had so far paid a total of N119.17 billion as severance benefits to staff of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
The government also gave the assurance that the power sector reform process was on course, as the deadline for payment of the remaining 75 per cent for the power companies remains Wednesday, August 21, 2013, as stipulated in the Request for Proposal (RFP).
A statement from the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) made available to LEADERSHIP yesterday noted that a total of 20,304 of the 40,000 staff of PHCN had been cleared and paid their severance benefits totaling N119, 176, 731,492.88 as of Friday, August 16, in line with agreements with PHCN labour unions dated December 12, 2012.
The head, public communications of BPE, Mr Chigbo Anichebe, in the statement noted that the payment is being handled by the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF), and commenced on Thursday August 1, 2013.
All the preferred bidders for the 15 PHCN successor companies had earlier met the deadline for the payment of the mandatory 25 per cent of the offer value of their bids by the deadline date of March 21, 2013, in which the BPE had received $559,445,573.96 from 14 bidders for 15 successor companies.
The preferred bidders for the 10 privatised distribution companies had last week requested the extension of payment deadline to allow them to fully satisfy all conditions stipulated by the government.
The investors, under the aegis of Disco Roundtable, told the minister of power that the deadline would not be met unless certain conditions were first met by the federal government.
Some of the conditions listed by the core investors for government to meet include conclusion of labour-related issues, release of subsidy contained in the Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO) fund and adequate funding of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
Others are that government should grant them between five and 10 years tax holiday as was the case with the telecom industry start-up and to consider the extension of payment deadline to allow for the full satisfaction of all conditions stipulated by the government.
They also listed metering of the grid interface points, testing of the market operators settlement and processes and the constitution of a dispute resolution panel as other conditions which government must meet.
However, the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) and its implementation arm, the BPE, yesterday reassured Nigerians that the power sector reform process is on course.