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Opposition Rejects Petroleum Subsidy Removal

Source: THEWILL. - thewillnigeria.com
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ABUJA, November 07, (THEWILL) - The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has rejected the plan by the federal government to remove petroleum subsidy, calling the plan the handiwork of those propelled by the philosophy of the 'Washington Consensus' of rolling back the frontiers of the state.

In a statement issued in Lagos on Monday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party also condemned the reduction of the subsidy removal debate to a purely fiscal issue, without considering the responsibility of the government to improve the lives of the people through prudent management of state resources.

''Primarily, the basic objective of any fiscal policy is to improve the living conditions of the people through poverty reduction and the provision of welfare services. The removal of subsidy must therefore go beyond the cheap argument of improving the solvency of the government.

''To reduce the responsibility of the government to its citizen to Naira and Kobo tokenism is tantamount to abdicating responsibility, and this has far reaching consequences not only on the sustainability of our democracy but the continued existence of the nation as a unified entity,'' it said.

ACN said the government's argument that the subsidy benefits some members of a faceless cartel will begin to have meaning only if and when the government names the beneficiaries and tells Nigerians why they cannot be stopped from fleecing the state.

The party also said the only reason the issue of fuel subsidy has continued to recur is because Nigeria imports petroleum products for domestic consumption, warning that so long as importation continues, the problem that the government sets out to confront would continue like a recurring decimal.

It said the template being used by the government, which puts the pump price per litre of petrol at 144.70 Naira instead of the current price of 65 Naira, is fraught with inaccuracies and amounts to making the ordinary Nigerian to pay for the inefficiency of relevant government agencies.

''In any case, why should Nigeria, with huge crude oil deposits, have to import refined products? Why should Nigerians pay for the resources so bestowed on them by God through their noses? Why is the price of products, even among importer/exporter nations higher in Nigeria? The answer lies in the crude, prebendal, corruption-ridden state system that we run in this country.

''For example the pump price of petrol in Iran is N58.40, N30.66k in Kuwait, N32.12k in Qatar, and N17.52k in Saudi Arabia while it is a meager N5.84k in Venezuela. In Egypt pump price of petrol is N46.72k, while it is N39.42k in Bahrain. It is N135 in the USA for high premium inclusive of all state and federal taxes,'' ACN said.

As a way out of the subsidy conundrum, the party proposed the establishment of modular refineries with a total of 280,000 barrels per day refining capacity in nine cities - Gusau, Enugu, Ibadan, Kano, Makurdi, Maiduguri, Lagos, Auchi and Gombe, in addition to reviving the existing ones.