Fuel subsidy: NEC considers report today, TUC meets, ASCSN threatens showdown

THE Trade Union Congress will today (Thursday) take a position on the planned removal of the fuel subsidy by the Federal Government.

The TUC Deputy Secretary, Nuhu Toro, disclosed to The PUNCH in Abuja on Wednesday, that the congress would hold a meeting over the subsidy issue.

Toro disclosed this ahead of the National Executive Council’s meeting on Thursday.

NEC consisting of including all 36 governors, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and other federal officials is expected to consider the adoption of a report by its ad hoc committee on fuel subsidy removal and the increase of petrol price to N302 per litre.

On its part, the TUC deputy secretary said the congress would hold a meeting over the subsidy issue.

He said, “We are having a meeting tomorrow (Thursday). The congress will disclose its decision after that meeting.”

Also speaking with The PUNCH, the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria opposed the plan by the Federal Government to remove the fuel subsidy and increase the pump price.

The ASCSN President, Tommy Okon, said his association and Nigerians would resist the move.

He said, “Of course, Nigerians are rest assured that they would be defended by our union; that’s why we are here and that’s why we are saying it is a wrong decision to take at this time when workers wages are still stagnant. No increase, they have not made any provision.

“The transport system has not been looked into. So, you just wake up and say you are removing fuel subsidy. Where in other climes has this been done? Even when you give the subsidy, is it not the wealthy few that still hijacked it? The fight is not about workers, it is what Nigerians must rise and resist.”

Okon stated that the union had already taken a position on the issue, insisting that “no sane government should at this point of economic harshness decide to impoverish the people.”

There have been fears of likely fuel price increase since the Minister of Finance and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, announced the plan to remove petrol subsidy last June.

An online news medium, The Cable, reported on Wednesday that a committee of the National Economic Council had recommended that petrol should be sold at N302 per litre from February when the government would cease to subsidise the petroleum products in the country.

The report explained that NEC made the recommendations last November. The recommendations were reportedly put forward by the NEC ad-hoc committee interfacing with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation on the appropriate pricing of PMS in Nigeria.

The report was said to have been presented by Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State and the head of the committee.

According to the news report, the committee recommended full deregulation of PMS prices by February 2022 — raising the price by about N130/140 per litre.

It also recommended that all retailers should post PMS prices at all times on a designated website and smartphone app — and they are expected to post price changes no earlier than within 15 minutes of the price change.

With the recommendations, the committee added that the federal government would save N250 billion per month on petrol subsidy removal.

“At current rates, the PMS subsidy is reducing transfers into the federation by about NGN 250 billion per month, and could, if PMS subsidies are not eliminated, result in deductions of NGN 3 trillion in 2022.

“The large-scale time-limited (six-month) cash transfer proposed as a way of transferring the subsidy “directly to the people” would cost N600bn but would by paving the way for the elimination of PMS subsidies, enable the federation to recover N3tn in revenues that would otherwise go to PMS subsidies.

“If PMS subsidies are eliminated by February 2022, N250 billion in deductions would have been incurred, but the remaining N195 billion in anticipated PMS subsidy deductions could be redirected towards FGN funding of the cash-transfer programme,” The Cable said in its report.

But the Vice-President’s Spokesman, Laolu Akande, said the discussions were still ongoing and NEC had not yet taken any decision.

“While there are indeed ongoing discussions on the issue of fuel subsidy, at no time has NEC made any such resolution,” Akande said on Twitter.

The Federal Government last year revealed plans to remove fuel subsidy even as governors lamented that the monthly amount spent on subsidy was affecting the revenue that should accrue to states from the Federation Account.

However, Senate President Ahmad Lawan on Tuesday said the President told him that he did not order anyone to remove fuel subsidy.- Punch

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