The National Assembly has prescribed a N500,000 fine on any provider of water, electricity and other utilities who increases tariff without recourse to the Utilities Charges Commission.
The fine is contained in the Bill amending the Utilities Charges Act 2004. It is a significant raise from the original fine of N10, 000.
With the amendment, any utility service provider must first get approval from the commission before increasing tariffs and bringing hardship on Nigerians.
The Senate gave its concurrence to the amendment bill, which had already been passed by the House of Representatives.
In his lead debate on the Bill at Thursday, Leader of the Senate, Ali Ndume, said the amendment was in line with current realities in the country.
Provisions in the existing law which are amended include Sections 7 (2), 11 (5), 13 (2), which increased the fine from N10, 000 to N500, 000.
Section 7 as amended reads: “As from the commencement of this Act, a scheduled utility intending to vary or increase its charges, tariff or rates shall first seek the commission’s approval for such permissible increase.
“A person who contravenes the provisions of sub-section one of this section, commits an offence under this Act and is liable on conviction to a fine of N500, 000”.
The Senate also referred the screening of nominees to the Board of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to its Committee on Communications and directed the committee to report back in two weeks.
Those to be screened are Olabiyi Durojaiye (Chairman), Sunday Dare (Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders Management), Aliyu Abubakar (Non-Executive Commissioner), Clement Baiye (Non-Executive Commissioner) and Okoi Obia (Non-Executive Commissioner).
Others are Ezekiel Yissa (Non-Executive Commissioner) and Ifeanyi Ararume (Non-Executive Commissioner).
The Senate also 12 Bills, including Defence Space Agency Bill, Agricultural Credit Scheme Act (Amendment) Bill, University of Abuja (Amendment) Bill, Chattered Institute of Stock Brokers Act (Amendment) Bill.
Other bills approved are Advertising Practitioners Act (Amendment) Bill, Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act (Amendment) Bill and Small and Medium Scale Enterprises Development Agency (Amendment) Bill.
They also included Utilities Charges Commission Act (Amendment) Bill.
Other bills passed include National Judicial Institute Act (Amendment) Bill: Endangered Species Act (Amendment) Bill and Quantity Surveyors Act (Amendment) Bill. (NAN)