There is no plan to remove the subsidy on petroleum products, the Presidency said yesterday.
President Goodluck Jonathan, at a March 19 event in Lagos, spoke of his administration’s plan to remove the subsidy after consultations with Nigerians. Jonathan, who spoke at the Nigerian Summit 2013, organised by The Economic Conference, said subsidy of products constitutes a waste of resources that should be channelled elsewhere.
Apparently thinking that the Federal Government may remove the subsidy on April 1, workers’ umbrella bodies – the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) – have scheduled a protest for April 10. But, the government said yesterday that there was no such plans.
The President’s Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe yesterday explained why his boss broached the idea of subsidy removal at the Lagos event. According to him, it was only an “intellectual contribution” to discussions by the President at the Summit.
He said sufficient provision had already been made for fuel subsidy in the 2013 Budget. “Therefore, there is no cause to assume that the President will act against the budget he presented to the National Assembly.” Okupe added that the administration would always engaged the various stakeholders in dialogue on issues relating to the oil and gas industry, with the view to reaching consensus on such issues.
The statement said: “Contrary to speculations in the media and assumption by certain groups within the polity, the Presidency has stated that the removal of oil subsidy is not on the table of the transformation agenda of the President. “A statement made by President Jonathan at the recent Economic Summit held in Lagos was a frank, intellectual and well articulated contribution by the President to the discussion on the Nigerian economy and not an indication that government was planning to remove subsidy from petroleum products.
“The President and this administration are not insensitive to the plight of the Nigerian masses and will continue to pursue and execute policies and programmes that are in the overall interest of majority of Nigerians and that will bring the greatest good to the greatest number of our teeming population.
“While noting that Nigeria spends about N1 trillion, an equivalent of about 20 per cent of the national budget on fuel subsidy, government remains committed to the welfare of the common man who unfortunately does not benefit optimally from the subsidy regime.
“Finally, for the avoidance of doubt and at the risk of being repetitive, this administration is not considering the issue of removal of fuel subsidy in the nearest future and will continue to dialogue with all stakeholders with a view to reaching sustainable consensus on all issues involved in the proper management of the nation’s oil and gas industry.”