No Decision On Fuel Subsidy Removal Yet – NEC

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By; SUNDAY ODE, Abuja
The National Economic Council (NEC) said on Thursday that it was yet to take any decisions on the proposed removal of petroleum subsidy.

“No! NEC hasn’t come up with any decisions yet,” Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki said while  briefing newsmen on the outcome of the monthly NEC meeting held at the Banquet Hall of the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Recall that President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, had on Monday told newsmen at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja that President Muhammadu Buhari had not asked anybody remove fuel subsidy.
He spoke amid speculations that government was contemplating a hike in fuel price.
Earlier, the Minister of Finance and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed has announced that subsidy was provided for only up to June in the 2022 budget.
According to Obaseki, an adboc  committee headed by Kaduna’s  Governor Nasir El Rufai was set up by NEC to advise on how to deal with the cost of premium motor spirit, PMS, in the country, as he noted that Nigeria is selling at half the cost of the product compared to the price in neighbouring countries.
The report of the committee, he said, was yet to be discussed by NEC for implementation. He said: “As you all know and aware, the issue of subsidy has been one matter that NEC has deliberated on for more than a year now. There was an adhoc committee which was set up by NEC headed by Governor El-Rufai that included members of the executive arm of government, that worked on recommendations as to what we should do about the cost of PMS locally; because as you realize, as has been told us, the cost of PMS in Nigeria today is about N162 per liter, whereas every other country surrounding Nigeria is selling the same product at more than 100% of the cost in Nigeria.
“And the country as at last year, spent in excess of almost I mean, we need to have the exact figures, but we must have spent almost N2 trillion subsidizing petroleum products. That is money that could have gone into building roads, money that could have gone into healthcare and education. 
“So for NEC, the arguments have been put out, should we continue this regime of spending money? We do not have to subsidize the living standards of only mostly those who have vehicles. And  when NEC looked at some of the analysis last year, we then realized that less than 1/3 of the states of this country consume two thirds of the subsidy.
“So the issue of equity also came up. All of these findings were presented to NEC and NEC has had several deliberations. And the deliberations are still ongoing. So, no! NEC hasn’t come up with any decision yet. 
“I think recommendations have also been made to the President. That is what I am aware has transpired so far.”
 Also commenting on the issue during the news briefing, Nassarawa Governor, Abubakar Sule said presentation on the issue of subsidy was not made by NEC because a decision was still pending.
According to him, the fact that subsidy had been provided for only six months in the current budget would suggest that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporate,NNPC, would have fully taken charge by June in accordance with the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act. “I think in addition to that what you have to understand, we didn’t make any presentations on this because there has not been a decision. But in reality, all of us Nigerians know that there is now the Petroleum Industry Act. And NNPC has now become, you know, a limited liability company. So NNPC will run differently. 
“So if the Minister of Finance, you know, provides for six months, you probably can understand part of the reason for provision of six months before NNPC fully takes off and at that moment, that’s when decisions will be made. 
“But I want to make the correction that it is not governors who are making recommendations. It is actually a NEC committee, you know, which comprises of all the other people that are looking at this and no decision has been made and probably by the time a decision will be made, uou know, the Petroleum Industry  Act has fully taken charge, and it will not require any recommendation from anybody,” the governor said. On how subsidy deductions have been affecting the fortunes of the states, Governor Obaseki said:”Well, I’ll put it very succinctly. As at last year, NNPC was supposed to contribute N200 billion a month to FAAC for distribution to the States.  Because of payment of subsidy, NNPC is unable  to put that money into FAAC for distribution, which means less money going to the States and less money going to the Federal Government.” 

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