Buhari Approves 18-month Suspension Of Fuel Subsidy Removal

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President Muhammedu Buhari on Tuesday approved an 18-month suspension of the planned removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) products.

The Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, disclosed this at a media briefing organised by the office of the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in Abuja on Tuesday.

“We don’t intend to remove the subsidy now. That is why we are making this announcement,” Mr Sylva, who had earlier met behind closed doors with the president said.

“We are proposing an 18-month extension. But what the National Assembly is going to approve is up to them,” he said.

According to Mr Sylva, arrangements have reached an advanced stage by the executive arm of government to propose to the National Assembly, an 18-month extension for the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) that was meant to kick-start in February.

“We also see the legal implication. There is a six-month provision in the PIA, which will expire in February and that is why we are coming out to say that before the expiration of this time, as I said earlier, we will engage the legislature,” the minister explained.

“We believe that this will go to the legislature; we are applying for amendment of the law so that we will still be within the law,” Mr Sylva added.

On the possibility of gradual increase in the price of PMS, the minister dismissed such plans, saying “that is not on the table as well. Gradual or increment in whatever guise is not on the table.

“We are going to see how to rejig the law; this is not going to be the only amendment to the PIA. A few months ago, the president already proposed an amendment to the law.”

Mr Buhari had on August 16, 2021 signed the Petroleum Industry Bill into law.

The president’s assent to the bill was in furtherance to the passage of the bill by both the Senate and the House of Representatives earlier in July 2021.

The PIA is expectedly meant to grow investors’ confidence in Nigeria’s Petroleum Industry and create more employment opportunities for the populace in the host communities.

It had been reported that the junior minister admitted that fuel subsidy removal would have a serious impact on citizens, adding that the federal government will not remove the subsidy until it had fully engaged with stakeholders.

In November 2021, minister of finance, Zainab Ahmed, said the Buhari-led regime will effect fuel subsidy removal by June 2022.

The finance minister had explained that citizens would be supported with N5,000 monthly transportation allowance to cushion the effect of the subsidy removal.

On Monday, Ms Ahmed said that the Federal Government made provisions for fuel subsidy in the 2022 Budget from January to June as payment on fuel subsidies would cease from July 2022.

She had also 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.