Nigeria: DISCOs Deny Owing Govt Tax Arrears

1 October 2019

The power distribution companies (Discos) in Nigeria have denied owing arrears of taxes to the federal government since the power privatisation exercise ended in 2013.

Their trade association - the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), stressed that the power investors were not indebted to the government through taxes in a statement in response to a recent comment attributed to the Chief Economist of PricewaterhouseCoppers Coopers (PwC), Dr. Andrew Nevin, that they owed the government taxes for years on account of their poor financial positions.

Nevin, had at a recent power sector roundtable disclosed that the Discos were owing the government tax arears because they had been unable to make any profit from their operations.

But ANED responded, saying the statement by Nevin was untrue.

It explained in the statement signed by its Director of Research and Advocacy, Mr. Sunday Oduntan, that while they acknowledged Nevin's effort to highlight the challenges of the sector in his presentation, thus, fostering dialogue that was critical for the resolution of same, they were not owing the federal government tax arrears.

"We hereby, unequivocally, state that this claim relating to Discos not paying federal government taxes is misleading, incorrect and not supported by the facts.

"As responsible corporate citizens, all of our member Discos take their tax obligations to the federal and state governments, as applicable, seriously. As a result, the Discos diligently pay all necessary taxes that apply to their operations," said the Discos.

According to the power sector investors, "These taxes include the minimum Company Income Tax (CIT), Withholding Tax (WHT) and Value Added Tax (VAT). We will like to encourage all parties interested in the growth and success of the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry to constantly diligently verify their information, to avoid creating more challenges than that which already exists in the sector."

Meanwhile, the Abuja Disco has disclosed that its Chief Financial Officer, Ije Okeke, has been appointed a commissioner by the Global Commission to End Energy Poverty (GCEEP) under the management of the Rockefeller Foundation.

It said the appointment was in line with a renewed drive by the global body to end lack of access to electricity for almost a billion people across the world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.

According to the Disco, the Commission is co-chaired by Ernest Moniz, Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who is also a former U.S. Secretary of Energy; President of the Rockefeller Foundation and former USAID Administrator, Dr. Rajiv Shah; and Africa Development Bank (AfDB) President, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina.

It explained that the announcement of Okeke's appointment followed the first full convening of the commissioners who participated in the launch of the Commission, which took place at the Bellagio Centre in Bellagio, Italy on September 10, 2019.

"On September 12, 2019, The Rockefeller Foundation announced the launch of the Global Commission to End Energy Poverty (GCEEP) to address one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century.

"Ije Ikoku Okeke whose area of expertise is in infrastructure finance, private equity and distribution management is expected to work with other renowned global experts in their efforts to bring electricity to the over 850 million people who live without access to energy today, and according to the World Bank, 650 million will still lack energy in 2030, falling far short of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 90 per cent of the 650 million people live in sub-Saharan Africa," said a statement from Abuja Disco.

It quoted Shah to have said at the launch of the Commission that: "We cannot end poverty without ending energy poverty. Despite recent progress, the world is not on track to solve this problem by 2030.

"Now it is time to unleash the full potential of distributed energy by integrating the strengths of grid and of-grid systems in order to enable large -scale public-private partnerships."

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