Contrary to recent reports, the Nigerian government on Friday insisted that it has not suspended plans to remove petroleum subsidy by June, 2023
The Federal Ministry of Finance said this in reaction to reports which emanated from the press briefing of the Minister Zainab Ahmed on Thursday.
Many newspapers had quoted the Minister as saying that the government had suspended the planned removal of subsidy on petroleum products by the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
The Minister spoke to journalists at the end of the National Executive Council meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
However, Ahmed in a statement on Friday signed on her behalf by Yunusa Tanko Abdullahi, her Special Adviser, Media & Communications, denied saying that the planned removal of petroleum subsidy has been suspended.
Rather, the minister said the government had expanded the subsidy removal committee to include teams from the incoming administration and the state governors to facilitate the process.
The Minister added that it was clearly stated in the 2023 Fiscal Framework and Appropriation Act and the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) that government should exit fuel subsidy by June 2023.
According to the Minister, the committee is to work out a road map for the removal of the subsidy.
She therefore insisted that there has been no change in the overall policy direction on the plan to end petrol subsidy by June 2023.
“The Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zaniab Ahmed, said that NEC deliberated on the issue extensively and came to the conclusion that the subsidy must be removed as it is not sustainable, but there is a need for further consultations, especially the need to involve members of the incoming administration and representatives of the State governments.
“We agreed to form an expanded committee that will be looking at the process for the removal of the subsidy, including determining the exact time as well as the measures that need to be taken to provide support to the poor and the vulnerable.
“There is also the need to agree alternative measures that will be put in place to ensure that there is sufficient supply of petroleum products in the country. The Subsidy Removal Committee currently comprises the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, the downstream and upstream regulators, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Chief Economic Adviser to the President.
“The 2023 Fiscal Framework and Appropriation Act as well as the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) have made the provision that government should exit fuel subsidy by June 2023. The committee is to work out a road map for the removal of the subsidy. No change in the overall policy direction regarding the petrol subsidy is envisaged by June 2023.”