Analysts at CSL Stockbrokers Limited, have advised the federal government to end the fuel subsidy, which currently makes up a significant proportion of Nigeria’s import bill. They reasoned that removal of the subbing will help reduce demand for dollars and reduce pressure in the foreign exchange market.
Besides’ they argued that ending the fuel subsidy regime would save the government about N1.2 trillion in expenditure in 2016, the analysts also revealed. The naira has been under pressure in the past few weeks as low crude oil prices continue to hit Nigeria’s external reserves. Presently, the nation’s currency goes for about N270/$1 on the parallel market.
However, a report by the Lagos-based investment and research firm obtained by THISDAY, also pointed out that beyond the short-term, ending the fuel subsidy regime would be positive for the currency, saying that it would likely stimulate refining of domestically- produced oil, which may then substitute imports of petroleum.
“Experience of other emerging markets suggests that removal of fuel subsidies positively impacts the balance of payments. This said, our pre-existing base case is that some currency depreciation will be necessary on a six to nine month time horizon to keep the economy stable and the external accounts on a sustainable footing,” the report stated.
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, had stated that the federal government would begin a gradual withdrawal of the fuel subsidy in 2016. The comment came months after President Muhammadu Buhari ruled out the need for removal. Kachikwu, citing a shortage of funds, had said the subsidy put at over N1 trillion ($5billion) in 2015 was no longer sustainable.
Crude oil (Brent) which has been hovering around $37.3/bbl, is already below the pessimistic oil price benchmark of $38/bbl assumed in the 2016 budget.
Nigeria’s long-standing fuel subsidies were partially removed in 2012 and consequently, the pump price of petrol was increased to N97 per litre from N65 per litre. This was reduced to N87 per litre earlier this year due to the drastic fall in oil prices but is expected to revert to N97 per litre following subsidy removal during 2016, with full removal due in 2017. The country has however witnessed severe fuel shortages for most of this year. Despite measures by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to ensure adequate petroleum supply nationwide, long queues have persisted in petrol stations across major cities with the result that petrol has been selling for significantly higher than the N87 per litre. The scarcity of petrol has largely been blamed on delayed payment of subsidy claims.
To this end, CSL Stockbrokers argued that the removal of the subsidy was a critical free-market reform, adding that it would be beneficial to the economy and to government finances, “though it will almost certainly put pressure on consumers and small businesses.”
“Apart from augmenting government revenues, the removal of the subsidy removes disincentives to refine petroleum product, and may improve the balance of payments through import substitution. It is widely acknowledged that the subsidy system was open to abuse and that only a relatively small number benefited from it as petroleum has always sold for higher than the pump price in most other states outside Lagos.
“We, however, believe there still remains some political risk in implementing the change. The subsidy on petroleum is widely seen as a form of social security in a country where health and social security provision is limited. Its partial removal provoked negative reactions and street demonstrations in 2012.
“The cost of the subsidy is put at over N1trillion in 2015, in comparison with the N5 trillion budget for 2015 (20% of the 2015 budget). Removing the subsidy should save the government about N1.2trillion in expenditure in 2016. However, it should be noted that, as we state above, it is widely believed that the main beneficiaries of the fuel subsidy were a relatively small number of intermediaries, so eliminating their profits benefits the majority. Therefore, perhaps the most positive impact of this reform will be to introduce clarity into the complicated world of petroleum pricing, and advance this government’s pro- market reform agenda.,” it added.
Furthermore, they argued that the stock market may react positively to subsidy removal, adding that investors would be in favour of the move, with the view that it will curb leakages and enable the government re-allocate the funds possibly to infrastructure development.
“However, removal of subsidies is likely to put more pressure on the hard- pressed consumer, and therefore on consumer product companies and even food manufacturers. To the extent that subsidy removal will lead to increases in infrastructure spending, we expect subsidy removal to benefit cement manufacturers,” they added.
FG Has Paid Fuel marketers N74B in Seven Months — NMDPRA
The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) on Wednesday disclosed that the federal government has paid oil marketers N74 billion as bridging claims in last seven months..
The agency said it was reacting to claims by the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association Nigeria (IPMAN), Suleja branch, that continuing fuel scarcity was caused by non-payment of bridging claims.
The agency said it paid N71.2 billion bridging claims and another N2.7 billion freight differentials to the marketers as of June 6.
In May, IPMAN said the government owed its members half a trillion naira being the cost of transporting petrol across the country.
However, at the time NMDPRA had claimed to have paid oil marketers bridging claims of about N59 billion in five months.
In recent months, fuel scarcity has worsened in Abuja and several other cities across the country.
Marketers had listed the high cost of buying petrol at the depots and the high cost of diesel to truck them as the major factors responsible for the recent queue.
On Monday, the government announced that the nation’s capital petroleum deliveries were up nearly 100 per cent after the government offered additional N10 freight reimbursements to marketers.
The statement by the NMDPRA reads: “The attention of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) has been drawn to allegations made by the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association Nigeria (IPMAN Suleja Branch) on product scarcity as a result of non-payment of bridging claims.
“The authority chief executive of the NMDPRA, at a meeting held on 17th May 2022 with IPMAN bridging payment was discussed extensively and the processes were explained and agreed upon by IPMAN.
“He assured IPMAN of NMDPRA’s willingness to continue making payments of outstanding claims to promote seamless operations.
“Pursuant to the meeting, the NMDPRA went ahead to make an additional payment of N10 billion in June and sought for an upward review of the freight rate which was approved by President Muhammadu Buhari and is currently being implemented.
“The Authority wishes to reiterate that bridging payment is an ongoing process which is carried out after due verification exercise by the Authority and Marketers.
“So far, the Authority paid N71,233,712,991 bridging claims and another N2,736,179,950.84 freight differentials to the Marketers as at 6th June 2022.
“A breakdown of payment made to Marketers is as follows: Major Marketers (MOMAN) received N9,958,777,487.24, IPMAN members were paid N42,301,923,616.96, NNPC Retails N6,661,459,118.61 while DAPPMAN members were paid N12,303,195,651.57, these translate to a total of N73,969,892,941.84.
“It is disheartening that despite these payments and increase of N10 bridging cost, which was approved by President Muhammadu Buhari two weeks ago, IPMAN could turn around to accuse the NMDPRA of insensitivity,” the statement said.
It said NMDPRA remains committed to ensuring a safe, efficient, and effective conduct of midstream and downstream petroleum operations.
Nigeria-Cameroon Link Bridge up for Inauguration this June – Fashola
The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), has stated that the Nigeria-Cameroon link bridge will be inaugurated this June.
Speaking at the 16th inter-ministerial meeting of the group in Abuja, Fashola who doubles as the Chairman of the five regional ministerial steering committees, explained that the largely funded bridge by the African Development Bank (AfDB) is completed and in hopes that ECOWAS would deliver support for the inauguration.
“We have completed a new link bridge that links Nigeria to Cameroon, and it was funded largely by the AfDB and we are hoping that the ECOWAS commission will give us the necessary support to ensure the formal opening of that bridge sometime in the month of June,” he said.
The commitment to the piece of infrastructure, according to the minister, is to transform the road network into a first-class six-lane motorway, emphasizing that while speed is important, quality must not be lost.
“We’re trying to deliver a better life for five countries and over 40 million people who use that corridor, almost on a daily basis.
“The future is bright, this is an important investment for the people of Africa to achieve the objective of the Africa Union (AU) to create a trans-African highway,” he stated.
Lydie Ehouman, AfDB’s Chief Transport Economist and Project Task Manager, also spoke at the event, stating that the bank had been able to acquire an additional €3.5 million for the road project.
Investors King gathered that the total sum available for the initial financing of the project’s strategic research has increased to $41 million.
“The agreement for the on-lending of this additional grant by the bank to ECOWAS is currently being finalised. Thus, in addition to its substantial contribution of $25 million, the bank will have mobilised €12.63 million in the form of a grant from the European Union.
“This brings the total amount available for the financing of this highly strategic study to the equivalent of about US$ 41 million,” she stated.
She did, however, point out that specialists in member countries’ claims of delays were untrue, because the arrangement was that labor should persist while any differences were aired and rectified.
UNDP, DPGA to Promote Global Digital Goods
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Digital Public Goods Alliance (DPGA), the government of Norway, and Sierra Leone have agreed to promote inclusive digital public infrastructure in countries across the world.
On Wednesday, Investors King gathered that world leaders, development organisations and philanthropic funders are set to invest in a “large-scale technology sharing, funding, and commitment to supporting the international cooperation agenda.”
In its published statement, UNDP stated that the agreement is to improve governance frameworks, which are critical to building a resilient future for countries.
At the event, global leaders committed their efforts to funding and the implementation of digital public infrastructure through a newly established Digital Public Goods Charter (DPG), which serves as a framework to increase international cooperation on this plan.
With its DPG Charter, co-led by the DPGA and the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL), the UNDP outlines a clear vision for a coordinated global approach to building a safe, trusted, and inclusive digital public infrastructure using DPGs.
“Doing so can enable countries – regardless of income levels – to transform services and service delivery for people and communities everywhere,” the statement read.
The DPG Charter, and the commitments made by global leaders, are especially relevant given the devastating socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and mounting climate disruption.
These challenges, compounded with the unprecedented food, energy, and financial crisis added by the war in Ukraine, are creating an urgent need for global action.
Digital Public Goods are open-source solutions used to build digital public infrastructure (DPI), enabling countries to provide better services and foster inclusive economic growth.
While the Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) involves digital systems like cash transfers, digital identification, and data exchange that enable the adequate provision of essential society-wide functions. It also allows the building of resilient crisis recovery.
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