BPE said it would invite experts to help value NITEL.
The Bureau of Public Enterprises on Wednesday said that the planned guided liquidation of the national carrier, the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), is being hampered by over $3 billion (about N480 billion) liabilities.
The privatisation agency has however said the proposed liquidation of the moribund telecom company would be finalised after the full value of the asset .is determined.
The Director General of the Bureau, Benjamin Dikki, said in Abuja that the BPE intends to forward seven draft bills to the National Assembly for consideration and approval to encourage the private sector to invest in key areas of infrastructure, water resources, telecommunications and other sectors crucial to achieving private-sector driven sustainable growth of the nation’s economy.
Mr. Dikki told the Senate Committee on Privatisation during a visit to his office that the agency had also set in motion arrangements for the privatisation of other key public agencies as part of efforts to make them attract adequate investments required for their improved functionality and globally competitiveness.
Mr. Dikki said that plans were also on to completely divest government’s equities from privatised companies, including NICON Insurance, as a strategic option of creating opportunities for Nigerians to take up such equities, to sustain the benefit from the affected entities in terms of dividends on their investment.
The director general said the planned liquidation of NITEL has been quite challenging, considering the task of determining its real asset in the face of already identified huge liabilities.
He explained that up till now, it has been difficult to determine the total value of the asset of NITEL, although he said arrangements were being made to determine the worth of the assets and know whether it would be able to net-off the liabilities.
Mr. Dikki said the value of NITEL would only be established by a consortium of experts that the BPE was in the process of engaging as they would physically look at the assets, evaluate them and then ascertain what it is worth.
“We know the greatest assets NITEL has are its frequency and Right-of-Way. But we have not yet valued them. The value will come in to match the liabilities when the processes are concluded,” Mr. Diki said.
The DG said in spite of initial challenges faced in the power sector reform, particularly the labour-related matters, the privatisation process of the generation and distribution companies showed clearly that the programme is on course and that by September the process would have been finalised with the private investors taking them over.
On the partial privatisation of the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) and the Bank of Industry (BOI), Mr. Dikki said what had been discovered was that currently, the institutions are not able to offer loans for between seven to 10 years, pointing out that this was not good for development.
The Bureau, he said, is looking towards institutions where people can access long term funding and at reasonable interest rate.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Privatisation, Olugbenga Obadara, who commended the BPE on new initiatives to privatise public enterprises, said the National Assembly, particularly the Senate, was totally opposed to the liquidation of NITEL, given its enormous assets and job creation potentials for Nigerians.
He expressed dismay at the proposed guided liquidation of NITEL, saying that with over 5000 property owned by the company all over Nigeria, such a process may not be in the interest of Nigerians.
“We know you are a civil servant and that you are bound to carry out directives. But the Senate will oppose guided liquidation for NITEL and if need be will need to meet the Presidency to ensure that the interest of Nigerians are protected in the entire exercise. We have maintained this position earlier in our resolutions on the matter and we are still standing by the earlier decisions,” Mr. Obadara said.
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