THE Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said the Federal Government is implementing reforms and privatisation in some key sectors of the economy to address the abysmal failure of public enterprises and halt the drain on the treasury.
The Minister, who is the Chairman of the Stakeholders’ Engagement Committee of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP), stated this in Lagos on Monday, at a Stakeholders’ Media Interactive Forum on the privatisation programme of the Federal Government.
He regretted that despite the massive investments of about $100 billion in setting up these public enterprises, they have failed to live up to expectations, consuming a large proportion of resources without providing commensurate returns or services
”More importantly, they failed to allocate their resources efficiently, even as they consumed over $3 billion annually, by way of grants, subsidies, import duty waivers, tax exemptions, etc,” Alhaji Mohammed said.
He said there are ongoing reforms and privatisation in various sectors of the economy, including Communications, Development Finance Institutions, the Nigerian Commodity Exchange, Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, Federal Housing Authority, National Parks and the River Basin Development Authorities.
The Power and the Postal sectors, Federal roads, Railways, National Inland Water Ways and a host of other enterprises are also slated for reforms and privatization.
The Minister said the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) had initiated and executed far-reaching reforms in the Communications, Pensions, Sea Ports, Debt Management, Solid Minerals as well as the Power sector reform that led to the unbundling and privatisation of the successor companies of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
“Some of these reforms led to the establishment of both regulatory and other agencies such as the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Pension Commission (PenCom), the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Debt Management Office (DMO), Nigeria Electricity Liabilities Management Company (NELMCO), and the Nigeria Electricity Bulk Trader (NBET),” he said.
Alhaji Mohammed said the BPE has drafted eight reform bills that, when passed, will liberalise the relevant sectors and lead to the setting up of appropriate regulatory agencies to create the much-needed conducive and enabling environment for private sector investments.
He listed the bills as the Railway Bill; the Inland Waterways Bill; the Ports and Harbour Bill; the Federal Roads Authority Bill; the National Roads Fund Bill; the National Transport Commission; the Competition and Consumer Protection Bill and the Postal Bill.
The Minister sought the buy-in of the media for the reform and privatisation programme in order to assuage the mixed feelings the reform has generated as well as restore public confidence in the programme.
In his remarks, BPE Director-General Alex Okoh said 142 companies have so far been privatized since the inception of the privatisation programme.
He said the BPE plans to generate N300 billion into the 2018 budget through the sale of some national assets, which include the Afam Power Plant in Rivers State, Geregu, Calabar and Omotosho National Independent Power Projects, re-privatization of the Yola Distribution Company, River Basin Development Authorities and the National Parks