Federal Government, on Friday, denied reports that it had suspended the removal of fuel subsidy.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, had on Thursday said the government had suspended the planned removal of subsidy on petroleum products by the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
Ahmed who spoke at the end of the National Executive Council meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, explained that the removal of the subsidy will likely take effect in June because the Petroleum Industry Act and the 2023 budget provided subsidy till June, noting that any delay may require the amendment of the PIA and the budget provision.
But she said that there was no deadline given for the subsidy removal and that the incoming administration would take decision on when possible to do that.
However, on Friday, Ahmed said the Federal Government had not suspended the removal of petrol subsidy.
The Minister, in a statement signed on her behalf by her Special Adviser, Media & Communications, Yunusa Tanko Abdullahi, said the government had expanded the subsidy removal committee to include teams from the incoming administration and the state governors.
According to the statement, “Against the backdrop of the story in some media that the Federal Government has suspended the removal of petrol subsidy, the government has said that it has not suspended the removal but has rather expanded the subsidy removal committee to include teams from the incoming administration and the state governors.
“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.”