From Uche Usim, Abuja
Ahead of the mid-2022 target for petrol subsidy removal, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, has disclosed that the Federal Government would pay N5,000 monthly stipend to about 30-40 million vulnerable Nigerians to ameliorate the anticipated scorching effect on them and the economy in general.
She stated this in Abuja on Tuesday at a conference tagged Nigeria Development Update (NDU), which had in attendance captains of industries and top government officials, including the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Mele Kyari.
According to her, hefty subsidy payouts remain an injurious development to the Nigerian economy and Nigerians.
She said trillions of Naira which should be ploughed into subsidy payments could now go into more strategic economic development programmes.
She expressed optimism that the recent developments in the oil sector, such as the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021 and the full reactivation of the four public refineries in the country, and the completion and coming on stream of the three private refineries under construction in 2022, would significantly boost contribution from the sector to our economic growth efforts.
“The subsidies regime in the sector remains unsustainable and economically disingenuous. Ahead of the target date of mid-2022 for the complete elimination of fuel subsidies, we are working with our partners on measures to cushion potential negative impact of the removal of the subsidies on the most vulnerable at the bottom 40 per cent of the population. One of such measures would be to institute a monthly transport subsidy in the form of cash transfer of N5,000 to between 30 – 40 million deserving Nigerians.
“As a government, we remain committed to our broad objectives of stimulating broad-based growth through diversification and the active participation of the private sector to ensure that our growth is inclusive. We will continue to prioritise investment in critical infrastructure needed to unlock production and supply constraints, to create adequate productive employment and preserve jobs, and to ensure macroeconomic stability and promote poverty reduction and equity.
“I agree with the report that, with the expansion of social protection policies during the pandemic, the government has an opportunity to phase out subsidies such as the PMS subsidy, while utilising cash transfers to safeguard the welfare of poor and middle-class households. Towards this end, we intend to accelerate our structural reforms, particularly in the power sector.”