The Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday advised the Federal Government to be tactful when removing petrol subsidy, recommending that it be done gradually.
A committee set up by the Nigeria Governor’s Forum had on Wednesday called for immediate removal of petrol subsidy. It recommended a petrol price of between and N380/litre and N408.5/litre.
While officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation said the oil firm was awaiting the Federal Government’s position on the recommendation of the governors before it would adjust the petrol price, it is reliably gathered that the Nigeria Labour Congress will today come up with its position on the governors’ recommendation that the price of petrol be raise from N162 per litre to N408.5 per litre.
For more than three years running, NNPC has been the sole importer of petrol into Nigeria. In a separate interview, officials of both the NLC and the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gs Workers had last week argued that the continued import of petrol by the NNPC was at the detriment of Nigeria’s refineries.
Both bodies insisted that the government should fix Nigeria’s refineries and stop importing petrol to help halt subsidy and save fund for the country.
The President, ACCI, Dr Al-Mujtaba Abubakar, said in an interview that it would be painful to raise petrol price to N408/litre this time and called for gradual increment.
Abubakar affirmed that ACCI was in support of subsidy removal. He however said, “The subsidy removal can be staggered. They (government) can stagger it by either removing about 25 per cent in the first three months, another 25 per cent next, and so on. They can stagger it.
“But as they remove the subsidy people will also want to see the benefits coming.”
The Director-General, LCCI, Dr. Muda Yusuf, explained that the inevitability of the deregulation of the petroleum downstream sector had not been in doubt. According to him, the huge financing gaps that existed at all levels of government make it impossible to continue to sustain subsidy regime.
Yusuf said, “But the transitioning process from a subsidy regime to a deregulated policy space calls for a strategy that is inclusive and socially sensitive.
“It is a tricky situation that demands tactful handling. It has profound social dimension. There is a strong economic argument, there is significant investment effect and there is a potential substantial political cost.”
Yusuf however noted that the bigger conversation should be around what should be done to mitigate the short term adverse social effect on the vulnerable segments of the society.
Speaking on the issue. the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Kennie Obateru, said that the oil firm would await the Federal Government’s position on the governors’ recommendation before changing petrol price.
He said, “We really cannot take a position on that now because we don’t want to pre-empt whatever government is going to decide and it is whatever the Federal Government decides that will come to play.