The Nigerian government says it will retain fuel subsidy indefinitely and will work on amending the 2022 budget to provide funds for that purpose, the finance minister has said.
The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, said the government has realised the timing of its planned removal of petrol subsidy is “problematic”, and will worsen the suffering of Nigerians.
The minister said the government will not remove subsidy in July as it earlier planned.
At a meeting with the Senate president, Ahmad Lawan, on Monday, the minister said the government is counting on the upcoming Dangote refinery to increase the country’s refining capacity.
The Senate president, Mr Lawan, faulted the timing of the planned removal of fuel subsidy.
He urged the Nigerian Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress to abort the planned protests against the Federal government’s proposed removal of fuel subsidy, saying the move is “totally unnecessary”.
Mr Lawan made the appeal when he met with the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva over the planned removal of subsidy on petroleum products by the Federal Government.
Those at the meeting include the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, and the Deputy Whip, Aliyu Abdullahi.
Also present were the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authourity, Farouk Ahmed, Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mele Kyari, and Commissioned Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission, Gbenga Komolafe.
Others are the Special Assistant to the President on Natural Resources, Habib Nuhu, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Aliyu Shinkafi, and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Nasir Sani-Gwarzo.
The Senate President, in his opening remarks at the meeting, faulted the timing for the planned removal of subsidy on petroleum products.
He stated that in as much as the administration and management of subsidy on petroleum products are flawed, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government believes that sufficient planning must be carried out before its eventual removal.
Mr Lawan, therefore, called on Labour unions such as the Nigerian Labour Congress and Trade Union to shelve the planned protest rallies, adding that the Federal Government has no plan of removing the petroleum subsidy now.
According to a statement by his media aide, Ezrel Tabiowo, he said, “The position of everyone in government today is that admittedly, subsidy administration and management are flawed because of so many reasons.
“Admittedly, the burden is huge and massive and there is need at one point to do away with the subsidy.