Nigeria’s government should take more proactive steps than economic think tanks, the media, or labour unions to prepare Nigerians for price increases if the fuel subsidy is completely removed, online surveys conducted by Arise TV recently have shown.
According to the results of the polls conducted on the broadcast network’s Twitter and YouTube platforms, 44% chose the government to take the lead in preparing the country for petrol pump pricing after subsidies are abolished. In comparison, 43% said the responsibility should be shared equally by the government, economic think tanks, the media, and labour unions.
In response to the poll, Andrew Nevin, partner and chief economist at PwC Nigeria, said on the TV’s global business report: “There needs to be some information to Nigerians on planning for what is going to be a huge change.”
Chinwe Egwim, the chief economist at Coronation Merchant Bank, commented on the poll, saying, “A collective effort from the perspective of government in terms of policy reform and the media as one of the most powerful tools that can communicate change and articulate the right message to support necessary adjustments to a post-fuel subsidy Nigeria is required.”
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According to Joseph Nnanna, a professor and head economist of the Development Bank of Nigeria, “economic think tanks have a role in explaining the economic ramifications for Nigerians, particularly those at the bottom of the pyramid.”
Also, Tilewa Adebajo, CEO of the CFG Advisory, in her contribution, said the responsibility lies squarely with the government.
“If Government is not taking the lead in this, then it is not going to work. We do not have enough revenue to service our debts. Our revenues are down because we are paying subsidies and NNPC has remitted little to nothing to the Federation account,” Adebajo said. “The government is in violation of the fiscal responsibility act. If there is no political will, then we will still be talking about fuel subsidies next year.”
Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, testified before the House of Representatives Committee on Finance to defend the 2023–2025 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP), stating that if petroleum subsidies are maintained throughout the entire 2023 fiscal cycle, the government’s budget deficit is anticipated to exceed N12.42 trillion.
She said that “the federal government intends to borrow more than N11 trillion and sell national assets to fund the fiscal deficit in 2023.”