The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, says it is clear that it is not possible to remove subsidy on petroleum products due to some impediments.
He said this during a meeting with Senate President Ahmad Lawan on Monday in Abuja over the planned removal of subsidy on petroleum products by the Federal Government.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, was at the meeting.
According to Timipre, it is clear that it is not possible at this time for the government to remove the subsidy.
“It is not within the contemplation now, of this administration, to remove subsidy, but of course, if there are legislative enablers that will ensure it is within the law, then I think it is a legislative responsibility.
“Subsidy removal will not happen. When you pass a law, a law is not cast in stone. In implementing the law, you now arrive at some impediments to implementation.
“We now feel we need to take care of those impediments because before subsidy is removed, there are certain things that need to be put in place to protect the people.
“We feel we need sometime to be able to put everything in place so that when subsidy is removed, it will have minimal impact on the people,” the minister said.
In his remarks, Lawan faulted the timing of the planned subsidy removal.
He said that in as much as the administration and management of subsidy on petroleum products were flawed, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government believed that sufficient planning must be carried out before its eventual removal.
He said: “The position of everyone in government today is that, admittedly, subsidy administration and management are flawed because of so many reasons.
“Admittedly, the burden is huge and massive and there is need at one point to do away with the subsidy.
“Even though our economy is growing, we still have the challenge of getting things to be better for our people.
“A lot of us in this administration believe that the issue of removal of subsidy should be handled with utmost care, especially that sufficient planning needs to be done.”
Lawan appealed the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to stop their planned protest against the proposed removal of fuel subsidy.
The senate president said the move was unnecessary.
“I am taking this opportunity to appeal to the TUC and NLC to shelve this plan to go on strike or demonstration, it is totally unnecessary.
“There is not going to be removal of subsidy; so, there is no need for this. Please, let’s not create unnecessary tension where there should be none,” he said.
The Minister of Finance, Ahmed, said that the Federal Government made provisions for fuel subsidy in the 2022 Budget – from January to June.
According to her, all payments on fuel subsidy ordinarily would cease as from July 2022.
She said that in view of the timing which was “problematic”, the government decided not to go ahead with the removal of subsidy in July, particularly against the backdrop of outcomes from ongoing consultations.
She added that the Federal Government was exploring alternatives to premium motor spirit as well as pushing to step up the country’s crude oil refining capacity.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the labour unions had planned to hold a protest from Jan. 27 over the planned subsidy removal.