By Victor Ahiuma-Young & Demola Akinyemi
…As NUPENG blasts Senate over planned N5 petrol levy
ILORIN—THE Senate President Dr. Bukola Saraki, weekend said the proposed National Road Fund Bill recommendation by the Senate committee on Works, would not lead to any increase in the current pump price of fuel.
This came as Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, condemned the Senate recommendation for a N5 levy on fuel price, saying it would make the price of a litre petrol to sell above N145.00.
Saraki, who made the clarification while speaking with newsmen in Ilorin, Kwara State after the breaking of fast, also said the Senate would this week discuss a motion on the interest rates being charged by commercial banks on loans to customers, particularly entrepreneurs who borrowed funds to stay afloat and contribute to the National Gross Domestic Product, GDP.
According to him: “This is an opportunity to clarify the inaccurate reporting. There is a Bill call the National Road Funds Bill. Our roads across the country are not adequately funded. If we are banking on the appropriation, we will not be able to adequately fund and refurbish our roads. Anybody that read the full report would have known that after the public hearing, which involved stakeholders from the road and transport industry, it was recommended that N5 from each litre of petrol should be channeled towards our roads. However, this is not going to be additional naira, but N5 out of the present price of N145 that Nigerians are currently paying at the pump.”
But reacting to the controversial N5 recommendation, NUPENG in a statement through its President, Igwe Achese, contended that this would be one tax and levy too many, considering the recession, poverty and hunger in the land.
NUPENG vowed to resist the move if passed into law, because it would further cause untold hardship on the citizens of this country.
According to the statement: “NUPENG condemns in its entirety the imposition of 0.5 percent charges on passenger fares as part of the levy.
NUPENG notes that the levy will be used to fund road projects is not tenable as it will encourage corruption, since the whole process will not be transparent. We call on the Senate to stop the passage of the N5 levy on fuel price on innocent and hard working Nigerians who toil day and night to make ends meet.
”We advise the Senate and Federal Government to look at other ways to fund the roads, infrastructure with recovered monies from looters and through public private partnership schemes, instead of further impoverishing poor Nigerians that voted for them.”
“The recommendations came from the engagement with stakeholders at the public hearing on the bill. One of the conditions attached to the new charges by all stakeholders was that this five naira should not be an increase, but come from what already exists. It is believed that the existing charges in the present price regime would be reduced to accommodate the five naira Road Fund bill.
“Nigerians should be reassured that although we have not even debated these recommendations, the committees report came with a clear proviso that the five naira should come from a restructuring of the existing template, which is reshuffling the taxes in the current N145 so that N5 out of this will always be pushed to develop existing roads and build new ones,”
NUPENG believed the Senate moves is anti-people and should therefore be jettisoned.
Meanwhile, The Senate president also said that this week, the Senate would discuss and take a decision on the interest rates being charged by commercial banks.