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No N5,000 subsidy allowance in 2022 budget, says Senate

Petrol pump

. As labour rejects palliative for Nigerians

The Senate has said there is no provision for N5,000 monthly allowance for 40 million Nigerians in the 2022 budget, as proposed by the executive to cushion the effects of the removal of fuel subsidy from next year.  

Recall that the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, on Tuesday, said the Federal Government will remove fuel subsidy and replace it with a monthly N5,000 transport grant to about 40 million poor Nigerians.

Ahmed explained that the transport grant will target about 30 to 40 million Nigerians who make up the poorest population of the country. And available resources after the removal of fuel subsidy will determine the number of beneficiaries.

But interrogating the comment on Wednesday, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Adeola Olamilekan, told journalists that there is no such provision in the 2022 National Budget, which already has a proposal for subsidy.

If there is something like that, a document needs to come to the National Assembly. And how do they want to identify the beneficiaries? This is not provided for in the 2022 budget proposal which is N2.4 trillion… How do we raise the money to pay these 40 million Nigerians?

According to him, before the Executive can embark on such intervention, the proposal must come to the National Assembly because it is going to cost N2.4 trillion.

He said: “If there is something like that, a document needs to come to the National Assembly. And how do they want to identify the beneficiaries? This is not provided for in the 2022 budget proposal which is N2.4 trillion.

“For us, we still believe it is news because this budget we are considering contains subsidy, and if we are passing a budget with subsidy in the fiscal document. We can’t speak because that is the document that is currently before us.

“There are still a lot of issues to be deliberated upon and looked into if eventually this will come to pass, and how do we raise the money to pay these 40 million Nigerians?”

It’s comical, unacceptable

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has rejected the proposed N5,000 subsidy palliative, describing it as “comical”.

NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, in a statement in Abuja, entitled: Nigerian workers refused to take the bait,” as N5,000 was grossly inadequate to cushion the effect of the astronomical increase in the price of petrol.

He noted that the Group Managing Director, NNPC Limited, Mele Kyari, had announced that petrol could cost as much as N340 from February 2022.

As a result, “This situation will definitely be compounded by the astronomical devaluation of the naira, which currently goes for N560 to $1 in the parallel market. Thus, any attempt to compare the price of petrol in Nigeria to other countries would be set on a faulty premise as it would be akin to comparing apples to mangoes,” it stated.

Given the nationwide panic that has trailed the disclosure of the monologue within the corridors of government and foreign interests, the NLC wishes to maintain its rejection of deregulation based on an import-driven model.

The NLC argued that Kyari and Ahmed’s comments were in sync with the positions of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which urged the Federal Government to remove fuel and electricity subsidies as soon as possible to open up the economy for further growth.

“The response of the NLC is that what we are hearing is the conversation of the Federal government with neo-liberal international monetary institutions.

“The conversation between the government and the people of Nigeria, especially workers under the auspices of the trade union movement on the matter of fuel subsidy was adjourned sine die so many months ago.

“Given the nationwide panic that has trailed the disclosure of the monologue within the corridors of government and foreign interests, the NLC wishes to maintain its rejection of deregulation based on an import-driven model.

“We wish to reiterate our persuasion that the only benefit of deregulation based on an import-driven model is that Nigerian consumers will infinitely continue to pay high prices for refined petroleum products,” the Congress maintained.

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