The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) may have bowed to pressure from the Senate to stop the fixed charges on electricity bills
The commission has directed the Distribution Companies (Discos) to look into the issue of fixed charges.
The Senate had weeks ago passed a resolution ordering NERC to look into fixed charges of electricity and indiscriminate billing of electricity consumers.
The commission in a seven-page response to a query by the Senate, said it had asked the distribution companies to find a way to restructure the fixed charges such that no one would be made to pay for electricity not consumed.
Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, NERC, Sam Amadi, who signed the letter to the Senate, said even though the fixed charge collected was not illegal, the commission had been able to intervene in the matter.
“In recognition of the negative impact of the fixed charge, the commission has held several public consultations to ascertain a measure that will guarantee financial viability in the industry and not expose consumers to paying for electricity not consumed.
“Based on the intervention of the commission, the distribution companies have agreed to find a way to restructure the fixed charge such that a consumer who does not receive electricity supply does not pay the fixed charge.
“This remodeling of the fixed charge will be part of the ongoing tariff review process being conducted by the distribution companies.
“NERC will continue to ensure that whatever model is presented for its approval is fair and reasonable, and ensures the survival of the new electricity market and improves quality of supply to consumers,” he stated.
On the bulk metering of customers, the commission said it is totally in agreement with the Senate on the need to eliminate the sharp practice.
It said it supports the Senate’s position that electricity consumers be metered individually and urged customers to reject community bulk metering.
“The commission agrees with the Senate’s position on the need to eliminate the practice of bulk billing of residential customers and replace the practice with individual metering and billing.
“It is important to state that the commission had previously abolished bulk billing in its ruling on the VGC Case NO: NERC/H/03/07. The case was brought by a customer against the VGC Estate management and the Eko Electricity Distribution Company in 2008. The commission ruled in favour of the customer.
“The decision of the commission stipulated that every customer is expected to be metered individually irrespective of the status of supply coming into the area and the class of billing should be on R2 or as appropriately determined by Discos,” it said.
Stock futures fall ahead of a big week of retail earnings
Stock futures fell early on Monday after a week of steep losses that ended on a high note, and ahead of a big earnings week for retailers.
Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped by 31 points, or 0.1%, while S&P 500 futures fell 0.47%. Nasdaq 100 futures were down 0.71%.
On Friday, the Dow rose 466.36 points, or 1.47%, while the S&P 500 climbed 2.39%. The Nasdaq Composite jumped 3.82% and posted its strongest one-day gain since November 2020. Still, all three averages posted losing weeks.
The gains came as investors went into relief rally mode to cap off a bad week for stocks in which the S&P 500 nearly descended into bear market territory.
It remains to be seen, however, how long the rally will last or how much further stocks have to fall before this year’s downtrend bottoms.
“Given the history of bear markets, coupled with the fact that the Fed has just begun its rate hike cycle and would like to see financial conditions continue to tighten so that demand pulls back further, this rally will most likely weaken,” said Quincy Krosby, chief equity strategist for LPL Financial.
Still, some investors and analysts say, whether or not the bottom is in, there are good buying opportunities at the market’s current lows.
“I’m not calling the bottom here, but there’s some opportunity here to dollar cost average,” said Sylvia Jablonski, CEO and chief investment officer at Defiance ETFs, told CNBC. “If you’re sitting on a bunch of cash, you’re locking in losses because of inflation. Investing in equities or asset classes that you believe in… it is the lesser evil. The selling fatigue will wane, the market will reset. It’s unlikely the Dow and the S&P are going to be in correction territory six months to a year from now.”
Retail earnings season kicks off this week with several big-box retailers set to report results for the first quarter, including Walmart, Target and Home Depot. Elsewhere, Deere is also on deck, along with a handful of technology companies.
Investors will also have their eye on retail sales data this week, which could give them insight into how retailers are managing inflation, which remains near 40-year highs.
Nigeria issues new guidelines on cryptocurrencies
The Nigerian government has released new guidelines aimed at protecting investors in digital assets as trades in cryptocurrencies get boost in Africa’s most populous nation.
The rules issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) offers more clarity on trading in cryptocurrencies, it was learnt.
The rules cover “issuance, offering platforms and custody of digital assets” for virtual technologies, according to a statement on its website.
This is coming amidst controversy over the acceptability of cryptocurrencies in Nigerian financial ecosystem.
Despite order by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to commercial banks to stop transactions in cryptocurrencies, Nigeria is said to account for the largest volume of cryptocurrency transactions outside the U.S., as data from Paxful, a Bitcoin marketplace reveals.
Experts however believe this would go a long way in boosting trading in cryptocurrencies which is gaining global traction.
The new rules cover the issuance of digital assets as securities, the registration of platforms and digital asset custodians, exchanges and virtual assets service providers.
Apple is no longer the world’s most valuable company
Oil giant Saudi Aramco on Wednesday surpassed Apple as the world’s most valuable firm.
Aramco’s market valuation was just under $2.43 trillion on Wednesday, according to FactSet, which converted its market cap to dollars. Apple, which fell more than 5% during trading in the U.S. on Wednesday, is now worth $2.37 trillion.
Energy stocks and prices have been rising as investors sell off equities in several industries, including technology, on fears of a deteriorating economic environment. Apple has fallen nearly 20% since its $182.94 peak on Jan. 4.
The move is mostly symbolic, but it shows how markets are shifting as the global economy grapples with rising interest rates, inflation, and supply chain problems.
Aramco stock is up over 27% so far in 2022. In March, the oil giant reported that its full-year profit last year more than doubled due to soaring oil prices.
Apple passed Saudi Aramco to become the world’s most valuable publicly traded company in 2020.
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