BusinessDay

Probe subsidy regime, unbundle NNPC, NECA DG charges FG

Adewale-Smatt Oyerinde, the director-general of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), has called for a judicial enquiry into the nation’s subsidy regime.

Oyerinde also said urged the Federal Government to unbundle the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited.

“Transition from NNPC to NNPC Limited is just like a change of name and logo. “The government needs to unbundle the NNPC,” said Oyerinde while addressing the state of the economy on Friday in Lagos. He said that the Nigerian government must be bold enough to take a decisive decision to revamp the ailing economy.

The NECA described fuel subsidy as unsustainable, saying it must be stopped while the government should work to improve local refining of Nigeria’s crude.

“The general consensus for us is that subsidy is not sustainable. Let us deal with the issue of local refineries. We have done turnaround maintenance.

Let the government be bold enough to come up with what we have done with the turnaround maintenance. It is a crime in this nation to continually drag us on this path. Let the refineries be working and complemented by the Dangote Refinery. If we do this, we will not have any business with subsidy.”

On how the government can deepen engagements with the organised private sector (OPS) to revive businesses affected by floods across states of the federation, Oyerinde said the government needs to be more stringent within the context of town planning.

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“Businesses have been terribly affected, families have been displaced, jobs have been lost, farmlands have been destroyed amid looming food crisis and people are migrating to the urban areas; all this will have consequences for the population and social economic issues. Government should support as much as they can, those that have been seriously affected to come back to their feet and also help businesses to revive.

“We also advise the government to deepen engagement with the OPS to track how funds given by the government to businesses are utilised. There have been interventions done by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), but can you imagine the level of default on those loans. If the loans are given to the OPS, they can be tracked; but it becomes difficult to track those given outside the organised structure and even difficult for the OPS to track them as well.

It would be recalled that the former governor of the CBN, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, had also questioned the transparency and the efficacy of the NNPC with respect to fuel subsidy.

Sanusi at this year’s Kaduna Investment programme said the daily average consumption of 66 million litres of petrol as claimed by the NNPC was unrealistic.

“We are consuming more than Indonesia, Egypt, Pakistan, Kenya and Cote d’Ivoire on a per capita basis. Are we drinking petrol?” he queried.

Data from the Nigerian Midstream Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), shows that 77.02 million litres of petrol was distributed across Nigeria on November 3, 2022.

Lagos, Ogun, Rivers, Kano, and Niger, had the highest truck-out with 16.81 million, 4.44 million, 4.01 million, 3.86 million and 3.85 million litres respectively.

According to Sanusi, states that border West Africa on their western side appear to have greater resources than other states.

Data gleaned from the NNPC’s monthly reports showed that N3.1 trillion has been spent on subsidy so far in the year.

According to Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance, budget, and national planning, the Federal Government is expected to spend N6.7 trillion on fuel subsidy payments in 2023.

Meanwhile, in October, President Muhammadu Buhari advocated for eliminating fuel subsidies in 2023 when presenting a N20.51 trillion budget plan for 2023 to the National Assembly, asserting that the programme was unsustainable given the current economic conditions.

“As a country, we must now confront this issue taking cognisance of the need to provide safety nets to cushion the attendant effects on some segments of society,” he said. “Discontinuing the policy is necessary for the country to manage limited resources.”