FG suspends planned petrol subsidy removal

By AdvocateNews on 24/01/2022

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The Federal Government says it will retain fuel subsidy indefinitely and will work on amending the 2022 budget to provide funds for that purpose, the finance minister has said.

The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, said the government has realised the timing of its planned removal of petrol subsidy is “problematic”, and will worsen the suffering of Nigerians.

The minister said the government will not remove subsidy in July as it earlier planned.

At a meeting with the Senate president, Ahmad Lawan, on Monday, the minister said the government is counting on the upcoming Dangote refinery to increase the country’s refining capacity.

The Senate president, Mr Lawan, faulted the timing of the planned removal of fuel subsidy.

He urged the Nigerian Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress to abort the planned protests against the Federal government’s proposed removal of fuel subsidy, saying the move is “totally unnecessary”.

Mr Lawan made the appeal when he met with the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva over the planned removal of subsidy on petroleum products by the Federal Government.

Those at the meeting include the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, and the Deputy Whip, Aliyu Abdullahi.

Also present were the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authourity, Farouk Ahmed, Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mele Kyari, and Commissioned Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission, Gbenga Komolafe.

 

Others are the Special Assistant to the President on Natural Resources, Habib Nuhu, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Aliyu Shinkafi, and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Nasir Sani-Gwarzo.

The Senate President, in his opening remarks at the meeting, faulted the timing for the planned removal of subsidy on petroleum products.

He stated that in as much as the administration and management of subsidy on petroleum products are flawed, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government believes that sufficient planning must be carried out before its eventual removal.

Mr Lawan, therefore, called on Labour unions such as the Nigerian Labour Congress and Trade Union to shelve the planned protest rallies, adding that the Federal Government has no plan of removing the petroleum subsidy now.

According to a statement by his media aide, Ezrel Tabiowo, he said, “The position of everyone in government today is that admittedly, subsidy administration and management are flawed because of so many reasons.

“Admittedly, the burden is huge and massive and there is need at one point to do away with the subsidy.“Even though our economy is growing, we still have the challenge of getting things to be better for our people.

“A lot of us in this administration believe that the issue of removal of subsidy should be handled with utmost care, especially that sufficient planning needs to be done.

“Significant arrangements for absorbing the shocks that will come with the removal should be done, that the timing should be such that the impact and consequences will not add to hardship. We all believe in this and Mr. President leads us in this feeling.

“What we are saying is that this is not the time. All of us are of the same opinion and, therefore, there is nothing like confusion or lack of understanding within the government circle.

“We all agree that the subsidy is abused and, therefore, it is a challenge to us as an administration to deal with the abuse, to find appropriate means of stopping it.

“After this meeting, there will be other ones, all in search of ways and means of ensuring that the ordinary Nigerian does not suffer any hardship, that when the subsidy will be removed eventually, it would be at such a point that the hardship will be very minimal and taken care of by several programmes.

“It is not about NLC, we are talking about every Nigerian. We are concerned beyond the Nigerian Labour Congress.

“I am taking this opportunity to appeal to the TUC and NLC to shelve this plan to go on strike or demonstration, it is totally unnecessary.

The Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, had said the President Muhammadu Buhari  was not in support of the removal of subsidy from Premium Motor Spirit,  popularly known as petrol.

Sylva said this when he appeared on Channels Television’s Newsnight programme.

 

“I will tell you categorically that at this moment, the complete removal of subsidy is not on our plate at all,” said Sylva.

“The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not in support of removing subsidy at this time,” he added.

The Minister stated that part of the reason why the Federal Government is not thinking about removing fuel subsidy is because of the impact it will have on Nigerians.

He said, “Of course, we all know that it is a desirable policy direction. Of course, we know that it will have some impacts on the people and that is why we are trying to work out some of those things.

“Until those details are worked out properly with (the organised) labour, and with all the stakeholders in the sector, we will not remove the subsidy. At this moment, it is not on our plate, I can tell you that.

“This is something that needs to be worked out between the Federal Government and the states because this is a federation issue. We are working with the governors to see how we can continue with this policy direction of subsidising fuel for the foreseeable future.”

Posted 24/01/2022 10:01:30 PM

 

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