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Stakeholders task govt on subsidy management

By Clara Nwachukwu

…Insist on no increase in petroleum pump prices
Stakeholders in the nation’s downstream petroleum sector have suggested numerous ways through which the Federal Government can address the current challenges facing the sector, especially with regard to the subsidy management.

No matter what decision government eventually takes regarding the subsidy regime, they maintained that pump price increases should not be one of them. “Government must not allow any further rise in the pump price of fuel.”

The stakeholders, who spoke at a Roundtable on Fuel Subsidy Regime, on Friday in Lagos, argued that the first step in resolving the crisis is to unbundle the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, and turn it into a public quoted company.

The Lagos Zonal Chairman, Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSN, Rev. Folorunso Oginni, advised that “Government must rehabilitate the existing refineries, drive competition through the Organised Private Sector, OPS, for the building of at least six new refineries within 30 months with combined refining capacities of one million barrels of crude oil per day.”

Oginni, who spoke on, “Fuel Subsidy Regime: Highlighting the Facts, Discarding the Fiction and Pointing the Way Forward,” also called on government to “Allocate crude to the refineries at special rates (not export dependent prices).
Monitor the local refineries to ensure that output equals the quantity of crude allocated to forestall diversion.”

For the Civil Society Organisation, CSOs, government must focus on reducing fraud and corruption in the subsidy mechanism. In their own presentation on “The what, the when, the how,” the CSOs argued that there was the need for process reform with a view to strengthening the system, saying that it was scandalous that Nigeria will spend in excess of N2.19trillion in the 2012 fiscal year.

They also said that government should draw up a roadmap towards deregulation that will take care of all the technical and political elements, while also supporting efficient redistributive mechanisms.Basing his arguments from the perspectives of history in a paper entitled, Fuel Subsidy in Nigeria: Historical Pesrpective and Current Issues,” the Principal Partner, Nextier Advisory, Mr Farouk Mohammed, urged government to introduce competition.


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