NELCOM grappling with N850 bn debt — MD

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powerministerThe National Electricity Liabilities Managing Company (NELMCO), on Wednesday said it was grappling with N850 billion debt it inherited from the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).

Dr Sam Agbogun, Managing Director of the company disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Jos.

He said N253 million was the accumulated debt owed Independent Power Plants while N150 billion was for environmental liabilities arising from pollution due to transformer oil leakages.

Agbogun listed other liabilities to include more than N175 billion legacy debts owed government agencies, N86 billion unpaid foreign loans and N70 billion owed other creditors.

“The debt is very far above the figures computed before the 18 PHCN companies were handed over to the successor investors in November.

“After due diligence by the new owners of the distribution and generating companies, we have found the initial compilations of the liabilities deficient.

“The situation is even worsened by the discovery of more and more unknown liabilities.”

Agbogun said the company was also contending with liabilities from other environmental sources.

“The bulk of the environmental liabilities are from thermal power generating plants.

“Over the years, we took some of these things for granted, but most of the investors are foreigners and they insist we must tackle these liabilities to avoid litigations from environmentalists and human rights groups.

“As an organisation, NELMCO also knows that Nigeria is a signatory to international conventions on environmental protection.

“We have thus resolved to comply with these safety measures.”

Other sources that contributed to the high debt profile include litigation charges which recorded an upsurge after the hand over of PHCN to private investors, he said.

“Hundreds of millions have been awarded to litigants that had sued PHCN over unpaid services, trespass into land and properties, tax evasions, wrongful dismissals of staff and many other related grouses.

“Aside the monetary awards to the successful litigants, PHCN lawyers that handled the cases are equally owed hundreds of millions in unpaid legal fees.”

Agbogun described the pressure from the creditors as “just too much and unbearable’’.

He said NELMCO would generate N28 billion from the sale of assets, and had written to the National Electricity Regulatory Company (NERC) to provide it with a certain percentage realised from electricity tariff, to help settle its debts.

“We have made that proposal to NERC but it has not given its nod yet.”

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