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Manitoba Agrees To Naira Payments

After months of insistence that its outstanding invoices be paid in U.S. Dollars, Manitoba Hydro International Nigeria Limited (MHINL) has agreed to collect payments in Naira.

MHINL is the Canadian firm contracted by the Federal Government to manage the electricity Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).

The firm’s acceptance of the naira payment is contained in a letter signed by MHINL’s Director, Cassandra Siemens, and addressed to the Managing Director of System Operations/Market Operations (MO) of TCN.

MO is a division of TCN that issues market settlements and invoices due to the market participants and service providers in the Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry (NESI).

In the letter dated Sept. 29, MHINL recalled that it had given a notice of suspension under the management contract of TCN for reason of non-payment in U.S. dollars as per the contract terms.

The firm said, however, that “on a case by case basis, MHINL will write their acceptance for payment of the U.S. Dollars in Nigeria.’’

The Canadian firm asked the MO to “immediately transfer 93,764.09 U.S. dollars in naira “at the prevailing exchange rate,’’ into its Zenith account whose number was stated in the letter.

The firm, however, hinted that the request was a “onetime exception,’’ indicating that it would still pursue its bid to be paid in dollars.

Well-placed sources said that the development signified a twist to months of disagreement that stalled the payments as the MO refused to pay the invoices in dollars as requested by MHINL.

In refusing to pay in dollars, the Managing Director of MO, Mrs Vera Osuhor, had argued that doing that would breach a CBN directive that stated that all payments must be made in local currency.

Miffed by that insistence, MHINL had written CBN but got a response that only affirmed the MO’s position that every payment must be in naira.

MHINL’s position that naira payment is only a “onetime exception,’’ only confirms that the disagreement was not over as the firm was still sticking to its desire for dollar payment in future.

Contacted on the new development, Osuhor declined to give details of the payments, but said that it only vindicated her.

“In declining to pay in dollars, the MO was only being obedient to the CBN directive; we did not just refuse to pay deliberately. There are laws and those laws must be obeyed,’’ she said.

Osuhor agreed to shed more light on allegations that the MO had opened a separate account into which electricity trade funds were being paid.

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