FG succumbs, shelves fuel subsidy removal’s plan

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Following repeated warnings and threat of industrial action by Trade Union Congress and other civil society should the federal government go ahead to remove subsidy on petrol, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed on Monday announced that the federal government has decided to suspend the decision.

It would be recalled that an ad-hoc committee, which was set up by National Economic Council, NEC, headed by Governor El-Rufai that included members of the executive arm of government recommended full deregulation of PMS prices by February 2022 — raising the price by about N130/140 per litre to N302/litre.

NEC’s position came on a day former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, Rtd, advised the Federal Government against withdrawal of fuel subsidy, saying any increase in the pump price of petrol would push more Nigerians into poverty.

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The National Executive Council (NEC) of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had in December resolved to hold a national protest on February 1, 2022, against plans by the federal government to remove fuel subsidy.

Similarly, the TUC also vowed to reject the plans, and promised to embark on a nationwide protest.

Quadri Olaleye, the TUC president who alleged sabotage in the management of fuel subsidy, disputed the federal government’s claims on monthly fuel consumption and spending on fuel subsidy in the country.

He added that members of the private sector are fully prepared to mobilize members to join the nationwide protest.

However, Ahmed during a meeting held at the National Assembly in Abuja on Monday said the suspension of the implementation of the recommendation will be till further notice.

Recall that the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva had said that President Muhammadu Buhari is not in support of the removal of subsidy from Premium Motor Spirit, popularly known as petrol.

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“I will tell you categorically that at this moment, the complete removal of subsidy is not on our plate at all,” said Sylva.

The Minister stated that part of the reason why the Federal Government is not thinking about removing fuel subsidy is because of the impact it will have on Nigerians.

He said, “Of course, we all know that it is a desirable policy direction. Of course, we know that it will have some impacts on the people and that is why we are trying to work out some of those things.

“Until those details are worked out properly with (the organized) labour, and with all the stakeholders in the sector, we will not remove the subsidy. At this moment, it is not on our plate, I can tell you that.

“This is something that needs to be worked out between the Federal Government and the states because this is a federation issue. We are working with the governors to see how we can continue with this policy direction of subsidizing fuel for the foreseeable future.”