The National Economic Council (NEC) on Thursday suspended the planned removal of subsidy on petroleum products by the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
The Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed disclosed, this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the NEC meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
According to the minister, the NEC concluded in its meeting that it is not a favourable time for the action.
She stated that the Council deliberated on the matter and resolved that it cannot be removed for now, but it equally agreed on the need to continue the discussion on the matter and the necessary preparatory work in conjunction with states and representatives of the incoming administration.
Ahmed said, “What I said is that it is not going to be removed now; which means it is not going to be removed before the transition is completed. But then we two laws that have inadvertently made the provision that we should exit (subsidy) by June.
“So, if the committee’s work, which will include the representatives of the incoming administration determine that the removal can be done by June, then the work plan would be designed to exit as at June.
“But if the determination is that the period needs to be extended, it will mean that, as a country, we will have to revisit the Appropriation Act because the 2023 Budget only made provision up to June.
“So, if we are extending beyond June, it means we have to revisit the Appropriation Act and do a Supplementary or amend the bill and also the PIA.”
The issue of subsidy has been a controversial topic in Nigeria.
Under the Petroleum Industry bill signed by President Muhammadu Buhari in August 2021, part of the Act does not create room for subsidy.
In January 2022, the Federal Government proposed 18 months extension to the National Assembly for the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).
The current administration agreed to an extension of the statutory period for the implementation of the removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), in line with existing laws.
However, the fuel subsidy should have been fully removed by June, but the current administration said it is not yet time to implement the full removal.
It is however left to the incoming administration to take a decision on the fuel subsidy removal.
By Gloria Ume-Ezeoke
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