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It is double jeopardy to borrow to fund petrol subsidy in 2023 -Zainab Ahmed

  Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance, budget and national planning, says the federal government will end petrol subsidy payments by June 2023...

 


Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance, budget and national planning, says the federal government will end petrol subsidy payments by June 2023.

 

Ahmed said this on Tuesday during a press conference to mark the end of the 28th National Economic Summit (NES) in Abuja.

 

Petrol subsidy has been a controversial issue in Nigeria as spending continues to deplete the country’s revenue.

 

Between January and August 2022, the federal government paid N2.565 trillion to settle part of petrol subsidy shortfalls.

 

According to Ahmed, petrol subsidy removal is part of the federal government’s medium-term plan in the budget.

 

She, however, said that the challenge is how to go about removing the subsidy.

 

“First, we have to engage. We have already engaged with the states and the public before it was approved as part of the medium-term plan,” she said.

 

 “We have to do it by systematically informing the citizens about the size and quantum of the subsidy.

 

“We also have to educate them about the opportunity cost of what we are unable to do because of the fuel subsidy.”

 

According to the minister, the fuel subsidy, in addition to the budget deficit, is putting enormous pressure on the “fiscals”.

 

“It is not money that we have; it is money that we have to borrow to maintain the fuel subsidy,” Ahmed explained.

 

 “Some countries introduced subsidy during COVID-19, and because of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, but they are using their money to fund such subsidy.

 

“In our case, we are borrowing to pay the subsidy; that is double jeopardy. It is something that has to stop.

 

“We are glad that the majority of people in decision-making positions, including the political parties, have agreed that subsidy is not sustainable.

 

“The plan is, by June 2023, we must have completely exited subsidy, and it has to be a gradual process.”

The federal government had said it would spend up to N3.3 trillion on petrol subsidy between January and June 2023.

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