Oil industry experts offered President Bola Tinubu recommendations on Tuesday, suggesting a gradual easing of the subsidy removal on Premium Motor Spirit, commonly known as petrol.
The advice stems from importers’ challenges in procuring United States dollars, which has led to significant repercussions for businesses.
Despite this, President Tinubu remained steadfast in his rejection of fuel price increases and the restoration of fuel subsidies.
Meanwhile, petroleum product marketers extended their counsel to the President by highlighting the Kenyan example as they emphasized that Kenya, in response to the adverse consequences of subsidy removal, had been compelled to reintroduce subsidies on petrol to mitigate the severe impact experienced by the citizens.
“Let them not do the needful, they will see the consequences. We learned this morning that Kenya, which equally removed subsidy and noticed that its effect was so hard on the citizens, has again resumed the subsidy regime for the period of two months,” the Secretary, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Abuja-Suleja, Mohammed Shuaibu, told our correspondent.
He added, “Government is about the people and it must have a listening ear. For Nigeria, how can we be an oil producing nation with four refineries and all of them are down. We now depend on imports.
“When he (Tinubu) announced that thing (subsidy removal), we said it was going to bring problems. Are we not feeling the consequences of that announcement now? It is forex that largely determines the cost of petroleum products here.
“Marketers are not willing to import products again, So if the government is going to relax the removal of subsidy for a while, it should better do that as a matter of urgency.”
Shuaibu argued that despite the fact that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited announced earlier on Tuesday that it had no intention of increasing petrol price, the cost of the commodity would rise above its current N617/litre in weeks, if the exchange rate continues to increase.
“Relaxing subsidy removal is going to be a very wise decision right now, because going by the price of the dollar, the cost of petrol is bound to rise. In fact, some oil marketers are ready to join the labour union to protest,” he added.
Some dealers had said subsidy on petrol would gradually creep in, should the NNPCL continue to sell at N617/litre, particularly if the rise in forex rate persists.
The National Public Relations Officer, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chief Chinedu Ukadike, said the outright removal of subsidy would cause severe hardship.
“I’ve been saying this even before subsidy on petrol was removed. How can you stop subsidy without anything on ground as palliatives?
“Trips that used to be N5,000 in the past and now over N15,000. Businesses are shutting down. The suffering is rising. The government has to intervene now,” he stated.
The IPMAN PRO had earlier explained that the price of imported commodities, including petrol, would continue to rise as far as the rate of exchange of the dollar increases.
FG Pays N169.4 Billion for Subsidy in August to Keep Pump Price at N620/Litre
Amidst President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s repeated assurances of subsidy removal, it has come to light that the Federal Government disbursed N169.4 billion as subsidy payments in August to maintain the pump price of petrol at N620 per litre.
This revelation has raised eyebrows and ignited discussions about the future of fuel subsidies in Nigeria.
Investigation, backed by a document from the Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC), reveals that the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) paid $275 million as dividends to Nigeria through NNPC Limited. Out of this, NNPC Limited allocated $220 million (equivalent to N169.4 billion at N770/$) to cover the Petroleum Motor Spirit (PMS) subsidy, keeping it artificially low.
This move effectively indicates a resurrection of the subsidy system, which the government had promised to eliminate.
Under former President Buhari’s administration, Nigeria saw record-high spending on petrol subsidies. Reports from the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) show that subsidies cost N1.99 trillion from 2015 to 2020.
In 2021 alone, NNPC reported a subsidy cost of N1.57 trillion, with an additional N1.27 trillion from January to May 2022. The government had allocated N3 trillion in the budget to cover subsidy costs from June 2022 to June 2023, amounting to N7.83 trillion spent on subsidies during Buhari’s tenure.
Global oil market dynamics are further complicating the subsidy issue. Brent crude prices exceeded $95 per barrel, while the naira depreciated against the US dollar, undermining Nigeria’s pledge to remove petrol subsidies.
Despite higher international crude prices and exchange rate pressures, the government has held the pump price at N620/litre.
The situation has also strained petroleum marketers, who face rising international prices, a weakening naira, and government-mandated price caps. International petrol prices, exchange rates, and additional costs have collectively driven up the landing cost of PMS to about N728.64 per litre.
The government’s strategy to sustain the N620 per litre price involved a $3 billion crude repayment loan with Afrexim Bank to bolster the naira. However, this loan has reportedly stalled due to the withdrawal of other lenders.
While the government claims the subsidy is a temporary measure to ease the economic burden on Nigerians, experts argue that it highlights the need for a functional refinery and currency stability.
Without these factors in place, petrol prices will remain susceptible to fluctuations in global oil markets and exchange rates, potentially impacting the masses.
The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Reports Significant Growth in Nigeria’s Tax-to-GDP Ratio
The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) announced that it successfully increased Nigeria’s tax-to-Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio from 6.0 percent to 10.86 percent in 2022.
The revelation came during a sensitization program held yesterday in Lagos by the Director of Taxpayer Services at FIRS, Mrs. Saidatu Yero.
Mrs. Yero conveyed the agency’s commitment to further enhancing the nation’s tax-to-GDP ratio, with ambitious targets of 16.5 percent, aligning with the African average and subsequently aiming for 18 percent within the next three years.
Mrs. Yero proudly stated, “The FIRS Management has executed commendable reforms that have fundamentally transformed the landscape of tax administration in Nigeria, leading to a substantial increase in revenue collection for the government.”
The agency reported that its innovative measures have already culminated in the generation of N8.5 trillion as of September 14, 2023, demonstrating its unwavering commitment to achieving N12 trillion in revenue for the year 2023.
Elaborating further, Mrs. Yero said, “One of the primary objectives of the FIRS Management is to prioritize a ‘customer-centric’ approach, recognizing taxpayers as our key stakeholders within the tax ecosystem. To ensure that taxpayers comprehend their tax responsibilities and rights, it is imperative that we continuously inform, sensitize, engage, and educate them, facilitating their compliance without any hindrance.”
Addressing the event’s theme, “The Finance Act as an Innovation in the Nigerian Tax System,” Mr. Temitayo Orebajo, the Director of the Tax Policy and Advisory Department at FIRS, said that the 2023 Finance Act introduced substantial amendments to seven tax laws, four non-tax laws, and a total of 30 sections, signifying a significant leap forward in the country’s tax framework.
Euro-Area Inflation Eases, Fueling Debate on ECB’s Rate Hike Course
Revised Data Shows Modest Slowdown, But ECB Officials Divided on Further Hikes
In a surprising turn of events, revised data released today has revealed that inflation in the Eurozone moderated slightly in August, offering fresh fodder for the ongoing debate within the European Central Bank (ECB) on the necessity of further interest-rate hikes.
The latest figures show that consumer prices increased by 5.2% in August, down marginally from the initial reading of 5.3% while core inflation, excluding volatile elements like food and energy remained stable at 5.3%.
While the ECB recently raised the borrowing costs for the tenth consecutive time to 4%, the new data is reigniting discussions on whether this tightening cycle has concluded.
ECB Vice President Luis de Guindos, along with Madis Muller of Estonia and Peter Kazimir of Slovakia, have expressed their belief that the latest data supports the idea that no more interest-rate hikes are needed.
However, President Christine Lagarde has pushed back against such assumptions, and other hawkish officials from Austria, Latvia, and Slovenia argue that further moves may still be required to combat inflation effectively.
Economists, including Maeva Cousin of Bloomberg Economics, anticipate a marked deceleration in both headline and core inflation for September, potentially offering the ECB’s Governing Council the reassurance needed to assess whether the hiking cycle should indeed come to an end.
As Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau noted, the current rate is a “plateau,” and decisions will hinge on how inflation evolves as the economic “illness” diminishes.
In the face of these ongoing debates, patience remains key, with the ECB closely monitoring economic developments to determine the appropriate course of action for monetary policy.
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