Enugu— Former Minister of Finance and National Planning, Dr. Chu S.P. Okongwu has criticised the poor handling of the privatisation of the power sector, saying that what the Federal Government actually did was to hand over public assets to their friends in the name of privatisation.
Okongwu who spoke in an interview with Vanguard in Enugu also called for the promotion of small scale industries as well as encouragement of farmers through deliberate and favourable government policies to grow the economy.
He specifically asked government to reduce the high interest rate on loans for small scale industries to flourish in the country, as according to him, politics was about transforming society from bad to good or good to better.
His words: ”They have completely damaged the economy. This was what Obasanjo and Abacha did or started. Look at the privatisation of PHCN. Malaysia
imported crops from Nigeria and developed her palm produce. Same thing with the rubber imported from Nigeria. There are no rubber estates again in Nigeria. You have now had insight into certain models of privatisation (in Malaysia like FELDA) where farmers have 51 per cent control, why can’t we use that as a model, same thing as Britain.
”Why is this thing, Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, being sold to private people? Why not give labour 51 per cent ownership of PHCN and government still retains 49 per cent. What is all these business? It is carpet bagging: giving people’s assets to your friends.
”On the issue of metres, they have gradually jacked up the price of renting of the metre to N700 without people knowing and they are targeting N1000 plus. Multiply that by just one million subscribers which of course you know are well over that and you see how many billions they would make for doing nothing. What point does it make for me to generate electricity when already I am making so much money and it is just me carrying the whole thing? And it is a monopoly.
“I own it now, so why should I go into the sweat of production? Again, thinking of what they can get from the meters; the corporate law says that you must have a metre even if you are on solar energy or generator.
”It is just like in townships, whether you get water or not, you must pay for it. How does that encourage people to produce? It is rent and that is why I said that I will go deeper into it later because the main instrument of control or compensation is rent. You can say that Okongwu said that they are not going anywhere.”