Tony John, Port Harcourt
The Environmental Rights Action (ERA), in conjunction with Friends of the Earth Nigeria (FoEN), has expressed concerns about the over N17 billion spent yearly by the Federal Government, on the importation and servicing of generators.
The ERA has also called for the passage of renewable energy bill, which it is sponsoring in the National Assembly, saying that Federal Government should invest the N17 billion spent on servicing and importing generators, on installation of solar energy.
The group’s Programme Manager, Mike Karikpo, while speaking, on Thursday, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on the theme, ‘Eliminate import tariffs and VAT on renewable energy products and components’, said there should be paradigm shift from generator importation and servicing, to developing the energy sector to improve the nation’s economy.
Karikpo noted that ERA had, in 2017, urged Federal Government to commence direct budgetary provision for expansion of access to renewable energy in Nigeria and safeguard the country environment.
He said: “As a first step, ERA called on government to convert the over N17 billion budgeted in the 2017 appropriation act for purchase and servicing of generators for Federal ministries, departments and agencies, to kick start capital investment in renewable energy expansion.
“From our research, this N17 billion, if invested in the installation of solar could generate around the 50 megawatts of electricity.”
Speaking further, the ERA programme manager called on the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, implement zero Value Added Tax (VAT) policy on renewable energy products and components to accelerate growth of the renewable energy sector.
ERA noted, “We acknowledge the fact that Federal Government had approved a zero import duty for machinery and equipment used in the power sector.
“We are welcome the reduction in tariff on items like automatic circuit breakers, switches, lamp-holders, electrical apparatus for switching or protecting electrical circuits, from 20 percent to 10 percent.
“We, however, called on government to ensure zero VAT on products like batteries, charge controllers, inverters and the implementation of the approved low tariff on other renewable components as this would promote in-country assembly and production of renewable energy in Nigeria and would boost job creation for prospective investors in the sector”, the group stated.
ERA, however, called for consistency in the application of current VAT and approved import duties by Nigeria Customs Services, noting that its bill at the National Assembly, if passed, would set the nation “on the path of becoming a net clean, renewable energy exporter and supplier of renewable energy products across Africa”.