The federal government on Thursday disclosed why it shelved the planned removal of fuel subsidy by june this year.
Recall that the National Economic Council meeting chaired by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, had on Thursday said the federal government had backtracked on subsidy removal.
Speaking further on the topical issue, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zaniab Ahmed, the decision to shelve the planned removal of subsidy was necessitated by the widespread hardship and suffering in the country.
She said the Federal Government does not want to plunge the country into another round of suffering.
She however admitted that ultimately the subsidy on fuel will have to go at the due time.
She spoke shortly after the National Economic Council NEC meeting, chaired by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday.
She also noted that the existing committee that has been discussing the fuel subsidy issue needed to be expanded to enable more input from concerned Nigerians.
Her words,” I was at the National Economic Council, where we discussed the issue of post-subsidy removal Council agreed that the timing for the removal of subsidy should not be now but that we should continue with all of the preparation works that needs to be done and that this preparation work has to be done in consultation with the states and other key stakeholders, including representatives of the incoming administration.
“Council agreed that the first subsidy must be removed earlier rather than later because it is not sustainable. We cannot afford it anymore. We have to do it in such a way that the impact of the subsidy is as much as possible, mitigated on the lives of ordinary Nigerians.
“So this will require looking at alternatives to the post subsidy that needs to be planned for and subsequently put in place but also what needs to be done to support the people that are most affected as a result of the removal. So we will be working together with representatives of the state who will have a plan that will start working, working on putting the building blocks towards the eventual removal of the first subsidy.
“Find in your mind that the budget for 2023 has provision for subsidy only up to June 2023 and the Petroleum Industry Act has a provision that requires that all petroleum products must be deregulated 18 months after the effective date of the PMS removal
“We agreed to form an expanded committee looking at the process for the removal including determining the exact time and the measures that need to be taken to provide support to the poor and the vulnerable and then also the alternatives that will be put in place, including ensuring that there is sufficient supply of petroleum products in the country.
” So this is a decision that has been taken to expand the committee that is currently working with representatives of the states and it will have to be engaging with Labour and with petroleum marketers. The immediate committee is just comprising the initial Finance, the NNPC, the regulator, the downstream upstream regulator”