The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, says the Federal Government is determined to remove subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit, commonly known as petrol.
She also said a panel chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo would meet with the Nigeria Labour Congress and other stakeholders to consider the proposed N5,000 transport palliative and other options aimed at ameliorating the effects of the planned subsidy removal on Nigerians.
Responding to questions by journalists at the public presentation of the 2022 budget on Wednesday, Ahmed said the Federal Government was set to comply with the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021 to fully deregulate prices of petroleum products.
She said, “The PIA 2021 has made a provision that indicates that all by-products’ prices will be deregulated, and so far we have been able to deregulate kerosene prices and diesel prices.
“The only product that is still not deregulated is PMS, so we are planning to comply with the law because the PIA is an Act of the National Assembly and a law that we all have a responsibility to abide by.
On the proposed N5, 000 transport grant, the minister said the initiative was still at the proposal stage, adding that it was being weighed alongside other proposals aimed at reducing the impact of the subsidy removal on Nigerians.
She added that the government would implement any proposal with greater practicability and wider benefits for the country’s citizens.
Ahmed, who pointed out that the committee was set up to explore the various proposals, disclosed that the panel would resume deliberations after the New Year holiday to engage the NLC and accept its inputs.
She said, “What we did in terms of providing succour to citizens that would be affected by the removal of the fuel subsidy is that, from the Ministry of Finance we made a proposal to say that maybe we should provide a transport subsidy in the sum of N5000 or any amount that would be later agreed on, for between 20 million and 40 million people.
“There is a group that is meeting, chaired by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, so the numbers are still to be discussed and agreed upon.
“The idea is to find a way to provide funds in the hands of the people that really need it, to enable them to have some support.
She added, “What we put out to the country is a proposal by the Ministry that will be discussed alongside other proposals, and whichever is agreed as the one that is most practical and also that would be easily implemented and ensure that only the right people get the funds, will be the one that would be enforced.
“One other proposal that has been made which is very key is for us to identify health workers unions and pass the subsidy through them using vouchers.
“There are several options that we are working on. As people resume from their holidays, this committee’s work will resume and part of the work will be to engage with the National Labour Congress and get inputs from Labour.”