• Saturday, April 13, 2024
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What Tinubu’s government should do with petrol subsidy money — Finance Commissioners

The forum of state commissioners for finance of Nigeria has applauded President Bola Tinubu for demonstrating political will by removing the fuel subsidy on his first day in office while urging citizens to be patient saying its long-term benefits will far outweigh the hardship they are currently enduring.

While describing the subsidy as a fake, which only a few individuals in the oil sector enjoyed at the expense of over 200 million Nigerians, the finance commissioners proposed that the money first goes into the federation account where nobody has the authority to deduct anything as provided by the constitution.

The outgoing chairman of the forum, David Olofu and the incoming Chairman, Wale Akinterinwa urged President Tinubu to decisively introduce different policies and programmes that would cut across all sectors and tiers of government to cushion the impact of the subsidy removal.

For instance, Olofu, urged the government to introduce more than one mode of palliatives to suit various sectors, adding that government has to first discuss with state governors.

Speaking at a special dinner and presentation of award certificates organised by the forum in Abuja, Olofu said, “You can not have one palliative for all the sectors. For civil servants, you have to have separate palliatives for them. For civil servants, you can look at their means of transportation because that is where it pinches most. For business people, you can look at issues like tax waivers to make sure they don’t suffer unduly due to the high cost of petrol.

On the proposed wage increase for workers, Olofu stressed that sub nationals must be carried along because they have the bulk of civil servants in the country. And in addition to the wage increase, he urged the government to look at infrastructure. “We believe strongly that if we can wrap up infrastructure in this country it will also help to improve living standards and bring down the cost of doing business.”

The outgoing chairman also the President as a matter of urgency initiate the process for the amendment of the Petroleum Industry Act so as to address “visible lapses in the law and lack of transparency in the implementation by the Federal Government. This is an issue that has remained protracted on the agenda of FAAC and has continued to be of grave concern for Commissioners.”

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Speaking further, Olofu said the Forum, under his leadership, recorded some milestone achievements that advanced the interest of sub-nationals. According to him, the forum brought sanity into the management of the federation account by critically reviewing the flow into the account before it is disbursed, adding that its engagement with FAAC critical stakeholders saw the federation distributable revenue increase from below N500 billion to as much as over N1 trillion per month in some cases.

“It is also important to mention the amicable resolution of the 13 percent derivation issue without recourse to litigation”, he added.

“Our tenure has been exceptionally challenging with grim fiscal and monetary outlooks that were precipitated by a pandemic and economic recession. But we did not allow these scenarios to diminish our enthusiasm rather working with Fiscal and Monetary Authorities, we provided relief to the subnational governments and stayed the course. Indeed, for me, personally, it has been a most eventful period throughout, at times challenging but on the whole a most rewarding experience”, he also said.

The incoming Chairman stated that the forum under his leadership will be able to come up with issues that it will pursue in the best interest of the sub-nationals.

“The outgoing chairman elevated the forum to a much higher level than he met it, I’ll continue from where he stopped. I will also ensure that some of the issues that are currently being pursued are brought to a positive conclusion, in a manner that both the national and sub-national benefit appropriately that is definitely my first and major focus. So I am going to ensure that I keep pursuing that line and see where e can still make more recoveries to the state.”

“For me, the removal of subsidy is an overdue issue, so let’s thank the president for having the courage to remove it. We will feel the pain in the short run, but in the long run, it’s in the best interest of everybody. We all know that subsidy was a fake and was going into the hands of a few”, he added.

Umar Namadi, governor of Jigawa state who is the Special guest of honour at the event, commended the forum for its achievements so far. “It’s a place that shows a sense of unity in diversity. The forum is doing a very good job in terms of fiscal policies”, he said. The special dinner is part of the forum’s transition programme from one administration to the other.