FG Picks N102bn Fuel Subsidy in 3 Months

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Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has revealed that the controversial petrol subsidy took over N101 billion from the country’s coffers in the first three months of 2020.

CBN Monthly Financial and Operations for March 2020, released on Monday, described the subsidy spending as under-recovery. The report showed that the corporation spent N43.31 billion as subsidy on petrol in 2020. The figure came down substantially in February, to about N20.68 billion, while in March the national oil company spent N37.66 billion as subsidy.

However, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) heeded to a long standing public outcry and withdrew fuel subsidy in March 2020.  Analysts said it was remotely caused by crash in global oil prices which distorted the economic estimates worldwide.

The PPPRA said among others that it would concentrate on regulation and allow mostly market forces to dictate prices of products.  The agency is recorded as having adjusted product prices about three times since March this year.

The CBN Monthly Financial and Operations for March 2020 further stated that the corporation paid N434.25 billion to the Federation Account Allocation Committee during the quarter under review. It also indicated that a total of N138.57 billion was remitted to FAAC in January, while the committee received N148.53billion from the corporation in February 2020.

The NNPC said it paid N147.15 billion to FAAC in March this year. Reacting to the amount spent as petrol subsidy in the first quarter of 2020, the former President, Association of National Accountants of Nigeria, Dr Sam Nzekwe, said the government should insist that subsidy remained halted.

He said, “There is no need for subsidy again because they are using it to make unnecessary demands and this is the corruption that we are talking about. They are also using it to finance corruption too. The money that they would have used for other sectors or even send to FAAC is being used for subsidy and we cannot actually quantify its impact on the masses; rather, it is used to enrich a very few.”

Continuing, he said, “The NNPC should not be the only one importing petrol. The downstream sector must not continue like this. Other players should be allowed to play in the space too. The sector should be fully liberalised. And it is because the NNPC is the only one importing and almost running everything. This should not continue.”

The National President, Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria (PRTROA) Dr Billy Gillis-Harry, said he supports the removal of subsidy, but called on the federal government to come to the rescue of petroleum product, retail outlet owners as they were mostly affected during the price changes.

He also argued that the PPPRA should not be left alone in the determination of petrol prices. Harry called for stakeholders’ conference where such prices can be determined before implementation.

“I totally support removal of subsidy. Indeed out members do support the removal too. But we want the leaders of PPPRA, DPR, Ministry of Petroleum Resources NNPC to meet with the leaders of the various petroleum marketers, including PETROAN, to deal with the issue of pricing,” Billy, who is the chief executive officer of Bilview Energy, stated

Chibisi Ohakah, Abuja

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