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Removal of fuel subsidy will save Nigeria N2trn, says economic expert

Oluwasina Phillip

A non-governmental organisation and knowledge-based institution, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has said that  the removal of petroleum subsidy will save the government over N2 trillion.

This is even as it condemned the Federal Government’s plan to borrow N126.925 billion for the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) project.

Reviewing the 2022 Appropriation Bill,  yesterday, in Abuja,  the Lead Director, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), Barrister Eze Onyekpere wondered why the Federal Government should borrow so much for a national identity card scheme when a majority of Nigerians have not got the card 10 years after their identities have been captured.

He said that the  2022 Appropriation Act should contain an explicit provision abolishing fuel subsidies, under-recovery or any subsidy on petroleum motor spirit by whatever name called or under any guise whatsoever.

This, he noted, will save the nation not less than N2 trillion and make same available for the Federation Account.

According to Onyekpere, not less than 60 per cent of the savings accruing from abolishing the subsidy should be channelled to dedicated ring-fenced (statutory) expenditure in education and health.

On the national identity card, he opined that the commission should be called to question over N126.925 billion to be borrowed.

“Why do we need to borrow so much for a national identity card scheme? Can the commission explain why the identity cards have not reached a majority of Nigerians whose identities have been captured over 10 years since the scheme kicked off?” he asked.

The lead director also picked holes on the N2.915 billion revenue expected from the minerals and mining sector, saying that it is grossly underestimated.

National Assembly, he said, should engage the mining  authorities and the Ministry of Finance to ensure that illegal and private mining of public minerals  is stopped and proper accruing revenue estimated included in the budget.

CSJ also  suggested that there should be full implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act for reform in the oil and gas sector as this will also increase revenue available from oil and gas extraction in the medium term.

Onyekpere maintained that the leadership of the industry should be profesionalised and the new Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and other emerging companies should not be subjected to political pressure and distortions now or any time in future.

“Federal Government’s expected revenue from electronic money transfer (formerly stamp duties) is grossly underestimated. National Assembly should conduct detailed hearings and seek expert advice on this revenue head to ensure that the full accruable revenue is approved. National Assembly should ensure that the executive accounts for the unaccounted  accruals from previous years” he submitted.

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