BusinessDay

Nigeria needs to end fuel subsidy-Akabueze

In order to achieve stronger economic development, Ben Akabueze, the Director General of the Budget Office of Nigeria has advised the Federal Government to deregulate Nigeria’s downstream sector and channel its proceeds from petrol subsidy to other critical sectors.

In a discussion on Arise TV’s Global Business Report, Akabueze said the trillions of naira spent on petrol subsidy could be better spent on the education sector and other creative sectors.

He noted that the funds could be used to end the Academic Staff Union of Universities strike and raise the pay of government employees.

According to him, “The truth is that public servants need to be paid far better than they are now. It is like the ongoing issue regarding the Association Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the pay for lecturers.

Read also: FG spent N13.7trn on fuel subsidy in 15 years – NEITI

“I have not come across anyone in the government who thinks that lecturers are adequately paid or who thinks lecturers should not be paid significantly more,” he said. “The crux of the ASUU matter is the ability to pay.”

The DG said “the ability to pay” is the reason why the matter has dragged on, “because the government has refused to commit to a number that it does not have the ability to pay.”

He also noted that fuel subsidies often had a huge impact on the economy and the lives of the people, stressing that “when you eliminate fuel subsidies or cut back on it, there will be an immediate impact on people.”

Zainab Ahmed, The Minister of Finance, recently said that the FG may spend N6.7 trillion on petrol subsidies in 2023 if it plans to pay for the entire year.

According to her, if the subsidies continue until mid-2023, the cost could fall to N3.36 trillion.

Meanwhile, Akabueze has blamed the lack of investments in the midstream sector of the country’s oil and gas industry on the existence of petrol subsidies, noting that where prices were not market-driven, investors would be hesitant to commit.

The latest data by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited showed that Nigeria has paid N3.1 trillion so far in 2022.

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