Nigeria Can no Long Afford Subsidy, Says Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari has said it is economically dangerous to go back to the era of fuel subsidy given a 60 percent decline in revenue generation.
The president, who was represented by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) at the opening of the First Year Ministerial Performance Review Retreat for Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and Top Government Functionaries, at the State House Conference Centre, said the plunged in global oil prices due to COVID-19 has compelled the administration to make some tough calls that may cause initial pain but necessary for long-term gains.
He said “The COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected economies globally, has compelled us to make some far-reaching adjustments that may cause some initial pain, but which is necessary for long-term gains. As you all know, when oil prices collapsed at the height of the global lockdown, we deregulated the price of premium motor spirit (PMS) such that the benefit of lower prices was passed to consumers.
“This was welcomed by all and sundry. The effect of regulation though is that PMS prices will change with changes in global oil prices. This means, quite regrettably, that as oil prices recover, we would see some increases in PMS prices.
“There are several negative consequences, if Government should resume the business of fixing or subsidizing PMS prices. First of all, it would mean a return to the costly subsidy regime. Today we have 60% less revenues; we just cannot afford the cost. The second danger is the potential return of fuel queues – which has, thankfully, become a thing of the past under this administration. Nigerians no longer have to endure long queues just to buy petrol, often at highly inflated prices.
“Also, as I hinted earlier, there is no provision for fuel subsidy in the revised 2020 budget, simply because we are not able to afford it, if reasonable provisions must be made for health, education and other social services. We now have no choice.
“Nevertheless, I want to assure our compatriots that Government will remain alert to its responsibilities. The role of government now is to prevent marketers from raising prices arbitrarily or exploiting citizens. This was why the PPRA made the announcement a few days ago setting the range of price that must not be exceeded by marketers. The advantage we now have is that anyone can bring in petroleum products and compete with marketers, that way the price of petrol will be keep coming down”, the President said.
Speaking on the implementation of service-based billing for electricity, he said the adjustment was a painful one but its necessary if the nation wants consistent and reliable power supply.
He said “The other painful adjustment that we have had to make in recent days is a review of the electricity tariff regime. If there is one thing that we have heard over and over again, it is that Nigerians want consistent and reliable power supply. So the power sector remains a critical priority for the administration.
“Protecting the poor and vulnerable, while ensuring improved service in the power sector, is also a major priority for Government. And our policies, like the social investment programmes and other socio-economic schemes to benefit Nigerians, show that we remain focused on improving the welfare of the common man.
“The recent service-based tariff adjustment by the Discos has been a source of concern for many of us. Let me say frankly that like many Nigerians I have been very unhappy about the quality of service given by the Discos. That is why we have directed that tariff adjustments be made only on the basis of guaranteed improvement in service.
“Under this new arrangement only customers who are guaranteed a minimum of 12 hours of power and above can have their tariffs adjusted. Those who get less than 12 hours supply (Band D and E Customers) will not see any tariff adjustment. The poor and under privileged who were on R1 lifeline tariffs in the old structure will be maintained on lifeline tariffs, meaning that they will experience no increase.
“Government has also taken notice of the complaints about arbitrary estimated billing. Accordingly, a mass metering program is being undertaken to provide meters for over 5 million Nigerians, largely driven by preferred procurement from local manufacturers – creating thousands of jobs in the process. NERC has also been instructed to strictly enforce the capping regulation which will ensure that unmetered customers are not charged beyond the metered customers in their neighbourhood,” he said.
Prepaid Meter is Free, Buhari Warns DisCos, Agents
President Muhammadu Buhari once again warned Power Distributing Companies (DisCos) and their agents selling prepaid meters to electricity customers against the Federal Government directive that meter is free.
Ahmed Rufai Zakar, the Special Adviser to the President on Infrastructure, who represented Buhari at the FGN/NLC-TUC ad-hoc committee on electricity tariff stakeholders held in Ibadan, Oyo State on Wednesday, said President Buhari understood people’s concerns on issues surrounding electricity and was determined to curb and deal with unscrupulous individuals in the power sector.
He said, “We have made it very clear through the regulators direct order as well as intervention from the Ministry of Power that the meters are to be provided to Nigerians at no cost.
“Even for meters that were paid for, there is the directive from the regulator to the discos that they would need to find a way to reimburse those citizens over time.
“In cases where we find any disco or disco representative selling the meters or exploiting Nigerians to be able to get meters by paying, we would take the full measures of the law.
“The President has mandated that these meters must be free. We have also said that they must come from local manufacturers.
“This would create jobs and revive our industry.”
Nigeria’s Real Estate Sector Shrinks by 8.06% in the Third Quarter -NBS
Economic uncertainty plunged Nigeria’s real estate sector by 8.06 percent in the third quarter of the year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
Nigeria’s statistics office said “In nominal terms, real estate services recorded a growth rate of –8.06 per cent in the third quarter of 2020, indicating a decline of –11.78 per cent points compared to the growth rate at the same period in 2019, and by 9.12 per cent points when compared to the preceding quarter.
“Quarter-on-quarter, the sector growth rate was 18.92 per cent.
“Real GDP growth recorded in the sector in Q3 2020 stood at -13.40 per cent, lower than the growth recorded in third quarter of 2019 by –11.09 per cent points, but higher relative to Q2 2020 by 8.59 per cent points.
“Quarter-on-quarter, the sector grew by 17.15 per cent in the third quarter of 2020.
“It contributed 5.58 per cent to real GDP in Q3, 2020, lower than the 6.21 per cent it recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2019.”
Nigeria’s economy contracted by 2.48 percent in the first nine months following a 6.10 percent and 3.62 percent contraction in the second and third quarters respectively.
Nigeria Requires N400 Billion Annually to Maintain Federal Roads -Senator Bassey
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on road maintenance, Senator Gersome Bassey, on Friday said Nigeria requires about N400 billion annually to maintain federal roads across the country.
The Senator, therefore, described the N38 billion budgeted for road repairs in the 2021 proposed Budget as grossly inadequate. According to him, nothing meaningful could be achieved by the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) with such an amount.
He said, “For the 35 kilometres federal roads in the country to be motorable at all times, the sum of N400bn is required on yearly basis for maintenance.”
Bassey “What the committee submitted to the Appropriation Committee in the 2021 fiscal year is the N38bn proposed for it by the executive which cannot cover up to one quarter of the entire length of deplorable roads in the country.
“Unfortunately, despite having the power of appropriation, we cannot as a committee jerk up the sum since we are not in a position to carry out the estimation of work to be done on each of the specific portion of the road.
“Doing that without proposals to that effect from the executive, may lead to project insertion or padding as often alleged in the media.”
Nigeria’s Annual Remittance Inflow Estimated at $24 Billion -CBN
Nigerians to Start Receiving Remittance Inflows in Foreign Currency Today
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