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Fuel subsidy: ‘IMF cannot dictate to us’

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is not in a position to dictate to Nigeria to remove subsidy on imported Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) fuel, Chairman House of Representatives on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) Joseph Akinlaja (PDP, Ondo) has stated.

The IMF was reported to have advised the Federal government to remove subsidy on imported fuel and channel the fund to other areas of economic development needs.

The lawmaker, who spoke in Abuja on Monday, said the House of Representatives is not aware of the amount of money expended on fuel subsidy by the Federal government.

He however noted that subsidy has to be paid on fuel due to the peculiar situation of the country.

He said: “IMF will talk to us in advisory capacity. They don’t run our government for us.  It is the government that is supposed to take the decision.

“But as somebody who has been in the industry for more than 40 years, I believe that the issue of subsidy for petroleum products is outdated.

“Nigeria does not have the discipline to operate subsidy in whatever form. Subsidy is good for agriculture or any products.

“I have been in the forefront for more than 20 years, fighting against removal of subsidy, believing that Nigerian government or the people responsible will do like America, who we copy all the time, who subsidise agriculture.

“For farmers not to be out of business, if they produce in America, there are agencies to buy the produce from the farmers and preserve them, so that the farmer can produce next year.

“But here, it is the middlemen who are being subsidised in our Nigerian situation”.

On the correct situation of fuel subsidy in the country, he said, “I cannot tell you how much is being paid on subsidy.

“We know that if the government has come to the parliament to ask for a specific amount, based on our specific consumption for the year, for appropriation; if they have not come here, we cannot answer the question.

“It means that it is only the NNPC and the Minister of Petroleum Resources that can answer the question.

“As for the issue of subsidy, I believe there is subsidy that is being paid in whatever name it is called.

“The executive are the ones responsible for supply and distribution of petroleum products in Nigeria.

“The same executive said petrol especially – because that is the issue now; that as a policy, petrol should sell not more than N145 per litre.

“And the same government, specifically the NNPC, at a time last year during the scarcity, said the landing cost was N171.50.

“If oil marketers are instructed not to sell more than N145 and the same government talks about N171.50 as the landing cost, who is paying for the N26.50?

“Somebody must be paying. Definitely, it has to be the government.

“As Chairman of the Committee on Downtream, when we took on the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, what we heard (from them) was ‘under recovery.’ What is ‘under recovery’?

“Somebody is paying for something. So, I concluded in my mind as a knowledgeable person that the N145 per litre is being subsidised.”