OrderPaperToday – The Senate has vowed to seek punitive measures against the Bureau For Public Enterprises (BPE) over an alleged $3billion loss to the country in the privatization of power assets.

The Senate adopted this position on Thursday when it opened fresh investigation into the sale of 10 National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP) by the BPE.

In a three prayer motion moved by Sen. Mohammed Hassan (APC Yobe South), the senate directed its committee on Power and its Committee on Privatisation to look into the sale.

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In his remark, the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki expressed displeasure at how a government agency would decide to wave $3 billion, and sell the projects for $5 billion after an over $8 billion was invested.

It will be recalled that the Federal Government had invested some $8.2 billion in the 10 power projects which were later sold for $5.8 billion in 2014.

Saraki said the Senate must set example with any agency of government that encourages revenue leakages especially at a time of dwindling revenue like the country is experiencing now.

He said: “The privatization of some of the companies must be properly investigated: you wonder: how does an agency, sitting somewhere, can on its own, write off over $3 billion without any referral to anybody.

“It is mind boggling: even if you are going to take a decision like that there must be some level of consultation and collective responsibility.

“We cannot be carrying out some of these investigations and not bring them to conclusion, we must bring them to conclusion and see that actions are taken.

“On this matter we must make an example, all these are our responsibilities and we must see some of these through, when we resume from plenary the report of the committee must be given priority.”

While directing the committees to report back in four weeks, Saraki stressed that the alleged non-payment of tax by some of the companies in the power sector amounted to revenue leakages.

According to him, “anytime the law is broken, it is a slight on this institution because we make those laws, if we are in a society where there is such level of impunity we need to put things right and stop it.

“We must be able to not only bark but to also bite, so I hope that the committee on power and that of privatization will look into that.”

In his contribution, Chairman of the Committee on Appropriation Sen. Danjuma Goje lamented that the entire privatization process was a failure.

He said: “Unfortunately, those who got the Discos and those who Got the Gencos are all crying: the consumers are also crying so everything seems to be wrong with the companies.

“Even if government is not going to revoke this thing, there is need to look at the entire process; why were the Gencos sold, were they sold on merit or man-know-man.

“We must thoroughly investigate the entire process: how the BPE sold out our common wealth: we spent about $8 billion to do these NIPP and they were sold for 5$ billion: How do u make this loss.”

While presenting the motion Sen. Hassan decried the activities of Hydro International Nigeria Ltd. ((Manitoba), a Canadian company managing the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).

He said that the company was incorporated under the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria but frowned at the company’s insistence to be paid in dollars instead of Naira.

“It is a criminal offense stipulated in Section 20(5) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Act, 2007 for any person or body corporate to refuse the acceptance of Naira as legal currency tender.

“We are worried that the TCN is imposed with this burden, under the management Services Contract, of paying all taxes for the Management contractors while Manitoba does not pay taxes on monies paid under the contract.

“Section 9(2) of the Companies Income Tax Act (CITA) Cap 21, 2004 provides that tax must be shall be assessed and payable upon the profit of any company accruing in Nigeria.

“The Management Service Contract prepared by BPE for the management of TCN is fraught with apparent illegalities and total violation of the laws of Nigeria,” he said.

The Senate thereafter also directed the investigation into preparation, execution and implementation of the management contract for TCN.

The Senate also ordered investigation of the roles of all persons involved in these matters and also to ascertain the relevance of BPE on the board of Distribution Companies of Nigeria (Discos).

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