The Federal Government of Nigeria had postponed the planned removal of subsidies on petroleum products till further notice.
The Minister of Finance, Budget, and Economic Planning, Hajia Zainab Ahmed disclosed this at a meeting convened at the instance of Senate President, Ahmad Lawal at the National Assembly.
It should be recalled that The News Beam had earlier reported that the National Economic Council (NEC) had recommended an increase in the pump price of fuel from N162.50 to N302 per litre after a report by its ad-hoc committee on the proper price of fuel.
This development was trailed by heavy condemnation by Nigerians including the Nigerian Labour Congress. The organised labor had even kicked-off preparations for a nationwide protest scheduled for February 1, 2022.
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However, Hajia Zainab Ahmed said: “Let me start by stating that we did make a provision in 2022 budget and which means that there will be fuel subsidy from July.
“After consultations with various stakeholders, it became apparent that the timing became a big problem and Mr. President didn’t want that. We are looking at various means either putting our four refineries in order and allowing Dangote Refinery to come on stream.
“It means that we shall submit supplementary budget from July going forward.”
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The Minister added, “Provision was made in the 2022 budget for subsidy payment from January till June. That suggested that from July, there would be no subsidy.” The provision was made sequel to the passage of the Petroleum Industry Act which indicated that all petroleum products would be deregulated.
“Sequel to the passage of the PIA, we went back to amend the fiscal framework to incorporate the subsidy removal.
“However, after the budget was passed, we had consultations with a number of stakeholders and it became clear that the timing was problematic.
“We discovered that practically, there is still heightened inflation and that the removal of subsidy would further worsen the situation and impose more difficulties on the citizenry.
“Mr. President (Muhammadu Buhari), does not want to do that. What we are now doing is to continue with the ongoing discussions and consultations in terms of putting in place a number of measures.
“One of these include the roll out of the refining capacities of the existing refineries and the new ones which would reduce amount of products that would be imported into the country.
“We therefore need to return to the National Assembly to now amend the budget and make additional provision for subsidy from July 22 to whatever period that we agreed was suitable for the commencement of the total removal’