March 29, 2023

Fuel subsidy: Incoming govt’ll bear palliatives’ burden — FG

NMA warns FG to be careful in implementing subsidy removal

File image used to illustrate the story

THE Federal Government said yesterday that  the incoming administration of Bola Tinubu would bear the brunt of providing palliative measures for millions of Nigerians, ahead of the discontinuance of petrol subsidy in June 2023.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, who stated this at the 68th session of the State House Ministerial Briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja, said: “The subsidy palliatives will be left to the incoming government to implement. We’ll simply hand over to them.

“Of course, we will give recommendations which they are at liberty to either accept or reject.”

Reacting to this in an interview with Vanguard, the National President of Oil and Gas Service Providers Association of Nigeria, OGSPAN, Colman Obasi, observed that the downstream sector had not recorded much growth in the past few years because of distortions and inconsistent government policies.

He said: “The sector needs complete deregulation at this time in order to create a level playing field for local and foreign investors to invest in the sector. The expected investment would lead to the creation of several multiplier effects, including increased capacity and additional employment

“We need to build new refineries that can produce sufficient products to meet local demands and possibly for export too.

”Those ones the government calls illegal refineries should be encouraged and upgraded to produce products that meet required standards. All these do not need setting up committees or a committee to be chaired by the vice president. 

”I have a friend who said that when governments want to kill an idea they set up a committee to look into it.

“If the out going government is expecting the incoming Government to solve the problem of petroleum subsidy, they have missed it. They are simply playing a game.

”Those expecting the incoming Government to solve the mystery of petroleum subsidy, would have wait for a very long time.”

Similarly, the National Operations Controller, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, Mike Osatuyi, said the right time had come for the government to deregulate the sector in line with Petroleum Industry Act, PIA.

He said: “We do not really need to debate the way forward for the downstream sector, which should have evolved into a deregulated regime immediately the PIA became a reality.”

Also, a marketer, who pleaded animosity, said the major marketers were working to present the blueprint for the development of the sector to the new administration.

Chairman of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, Olumide Adeosun, had repeatedly called on the federal government to deregulate the sector in order to pave way for sustainable development of the sector.

The government had said efforts were not yet concluded with the state on the provision of palliatives to cushion the effects of the gradual removal of petroleum subsidy scheduled for June, 2023.

However, the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba, who addressed journalists at the time, noted that a committee, led by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, and the National Economic Council, comprising state governors, had been working to resolve the issue for over 12 months.

Within that period, however, the committee had yet to harmonise its templates, he added.

Abba said, “For over a year plus now, the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has been leading a committee working on this and the National Economic Council also has a committee that has also been working on this.”

“So, the stage that we are in now is how to finalise 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,” he added.