By Uche Amunike
The Federal Government of Nigeria has received $800m from the Word Bank as part of the fuel subsidy removal palliatives under the National Social Investment Programme in a bid to reduce the negative effects of the plans to remove subsidy on petroleum products by June 2023.
This disclosure was made by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed, Wednesday, during an interaction with State House reporters after the meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at the Presidential Villa.
She confirmed that the funds had already been secured and was already in place to be disbursed.
Speaking about the subsidy removal palliative which would be put in place before the removal subsidy on the premium motor spirits popularly called ‘petrol’, Hajiya Ahmed stated: ‘The second question on exit of fuel subsidy, this is a commitment in the Petroleum Industry Bill. There is a provision that says that 18 months after the effectiveness of the PIA that all petroleum products must be deregulated, that 18 months takes us to June 2023.’
‘Also, when we were working on the 2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and the Appropriation Act, we made that provision to enable us exit fuel subsidy by June 2023.’
‘We’re on course, we’re having different stakeholder engagements, we’ve secured some funding from the World Bank, that is the first tranche of palliatives that will enable us give cash transfers to the most vulnerable in our society that have now been registered in a national social register. Today that register has a list of 10 million households. 10 million households are equivalent to about 50 million Nigerians.’
‘But we also have to raise more resources to enable us do more than just the cash transfers and also in our engagements with the various stakeholders, the various kinds of tasks that we have go beyond the requirement of just giving cash transfers. Labour, for example, might be looking for mass transit for its members.’
She explained that the government was still working on several things, some of which the executive would take immediate effect, even as some others are to be implemented medium-term.
She further stated that the Muhammadu Buhari-led government was currently discussing subsidy removal with the incoming administration at different levels, including with members of the transition committee of the incoming government.
Note that last week, Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, stated that the incoming government of Bola Ahmed Tinubu would have the prerogative to deal with everything concerning subsidy removal palliatives which is meant to alleviate the expected discomfort that would face the Nigerian citizenry if it’s finally implemented in June 2023.
On his part, however, the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba, stated, on March 15, that there was no conclusion yet on how to cushion the impact that the proposed fuel subsidy removal would have on the Nigerian citizenry, adding that Vice President Yomi Osinbajo was the head of the Committee that has been working on it for about a year with state governors, but yet to arrive at a common position on the issue. He also confirmed that there was no timeline attached to the committee to conclude the ongoing discussion.
He added: ‘So, the stage that we are in now is how to finalize the suggestions that have come out from both the federal government and the governors side.’
‘Like you know, it is something that is going to affect the entire nation.They will just have to ensure that everyone is carried along, that is, both the federal and sub-national governments.’