Conference Gives Conditions on Removal of Fuel Subsidy
Controversy surrounding the recommendation by the Public Finance and
Revenue Committee of the on-going National Conference demanding complete
removal of subsidy on petroleum product has been resolved.
The Committee's recommendation had met a brick wall on Monday when it was
raised on the floor of the Conference with both those who were for and
those against stating their positions with vehemence.
However, through a motion by Dan Nwanyanwu and 24 others on Tuesday, it
was agreed that removal of subsidy on petroleum products within the next
three years should be preceded by building of new refineries and repair of
existing ones to full capacity.
The conference unanimously resolved that private sector investors granted
licenses to build new refineries shall, within a period of three years,
build such refineries or automatically forfeit such licenses to enable
other participants who are ready and willing to build such refineries to
Conference observed that the issue of total subsidy removal on petroleum
products has been a recurring decimal on the programmes of successive
governments over the years; and that there are merits in the arguments of
both the protagonists and the antagonists.
The decision of the Conference was drawn from the observation that
sustained subsidy retention has become a major drain on the nation's lean
resources which cannot be left to continue indefinitely.
It was argued that although the subsidy regime has been fraught with
massive corruption and may not necessarily be to the advantage of the poor
masses as often indicated, immediate removal of subsidy without requisite
mitigating infrastructure was bound to have a spiral effect that may see
prices of essential commodities rising with attendant effect on the poor
The Conference also resolved that two Accountant Generals, one for the
Federation and another for the Federal Government be appointed henceforth
subject to the approval of the Senate, for a single term of six years.
Based on arguments over the non-functionality of the Revenue Mobilisation,
Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) due to the overbearing attitude
of the Executive Arm of Government, Conference decided that RMAFC should
be placed on first-line charge.
Conference however rejected an amendment by a member that salaries and
allowances of political office holders be placed at par with that of
senior civil servants through amendment of Section 70 of the 1999
Also rejected was the recommendation that the Fiscal Responsibility Act of
2007 should be enshrined in the 1999 Constitution although it was resolved
that its adherence be strictly followed.
It was also the decision of the Conference that henceforth, government
agencies responsible for revenue generation and collection must comply
with Section 162(3) of the 1999 Constitution which requires them to remit
gross revenue in full to the Federation Account and resort to normal
budget process of obtaining budget approval from the National Assembly to
fund their operations.
Consequently, Conference resolved that all the sections of the enabling
Acts of these departments and agencies of government that allow them to
retain revenues and surplus to fund their operations be amended.
A recommendation that licensed professionals be engaged as tax
administrators or consultants was rejected by the delegates; also rejected
was the call for establishment of revenue courts for expeditious
disposition of tax issues.
It was also the decision of Conference that the current 1.68% charge from
the Federation Account for the development of solid minerals nationwide be
increased to 5% while government should commence immediate utilization of
the fund for the purpose it was designated.
The plenary session on Tuesday also approved the recommendation that solid
minerals and mines should be included in the Concurrent Legislative List.
On the Sovereign Wealth Fund, Conference agreed that 50% of accruals from
excess crude account should be taken to the fund while equivalent
percentage of earnings from solid minerals should also be taken to the
To boost mechanized farming across the country, Conference resolved and
adopted the recommendation for establishment of Agricultural Development
Fund and that 10% of the money from the excess crude account should be set
aside for the fund.
It was also agreed that Section 85(3) be deleted from the 1999
Constitution to enable the Auditor General of the Federation to audit or
appoint external auditors to audit Federal Government accounts in
The section states that: 'Nothing in this sub-section shall be construed
as authorizing the Auditor General to audit the accounts of or appoint
auditors for government statutory corporations, commissions, authorities,
agencies, including all persons and bodies established by an Act of the
To enhance the performance of the economy, it was agreed that government
should source for funds to revamp Ajaokuta Steel Projects and other steel
projects through public private partnership.
On the recommendation of the Committee that government was free to engage
in external borrowing, the Conference resolved that government was not
completely at liberty to borrow but that a ceiling has to be placed on how
much government should borrow.
To monitor projects tied to borrowed funds, the Conference agreed that
Debt Management Offices be established in each state of the Federation
without further delay.
In a bid to eliminate corruption in the country, the Conference said the
National Assembly should enact what it called Ill-Gotten Gain Act such
that individuals can be held to explain the sources of their wealth.