The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed has said the federal government will not remove subsidy at this moment because there are no buffers to cushion the effects.
The minister made the commitment yesterday at the closing press briefing at the annual IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington DC, United United States of America.
The minister who was flanked at the briefing by the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, and the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma said plausible as the argument to remove subsidy sounds, Nigeria isn't ready for it at this time.
"There is no eminent plan to remove fuel subsidy, " she declared.
She explained further that the FG has "no plan to remove fuel subsidy. If we have to remove subsidy, we will be working with various groups to look at the alternatives. We discuss this very frequently at the economic management team but we haven't found the viable alternatives so we are not yet at the point of removing subsidy," she said.
"We are here to discuss with the global community on various policy issues. One of the issues that always come up in the report especially, the IFM Article Four Report, is how we handle fuel subsidies. The IMF will say fuel subsidies are better removed so you could use the resources for other important sectors. In principle that is a fact to do so.
But in Nigeria we don't have any plans to remove fuel subsidy at this time because we have not yet designed buffers that will enable us to remove the subsidy and provide cushions for our people" she noted.
Speaking on other matters, the minister said the process of issuing a second green bond N15 billion later this year to finance various sectors in agriculture, power, health and water resources.
The first green bond of over N10bn she said was a success. "The projects that were scheduled to be financed by the green bonds have been so financed so it's fully drawn and performed. The projects are at various levels of completion" she assured.
On a broader scale of climate finance she said 'in view of our efforts as Finance ministers who play a key role in steering the economy and managing risks, including from climate change, climate finance, we were invited to join the coalition of climate Finance Ministers a coalition of Finance Ministers with long experience with climate actions and are well aligned with the Principles of the Coalition. Nigeria endorsed the Coalition Principles as one of the founding members" she said.
On Nigeria's human capacity development she noted that last year "when the human capital project was released, many of us were concerned that Nigeria was placed 157 out of 189 and I did promise that we would go back home and address this issue, I am happy to report that we used this Spring Meetings to show case what the government is doing in this important area. We have set up an inter-ministerial working group with representatives of the State Governors and are currently piloting some initiatives in health, education and of course you are all aware of the social safety nets programs of the Federal Government where we have 15 million people already on the register," she said .
Meanwhile, despite assurances of availability of Premium Motor Spirit by Federal Government, many petrol stations in Lagos, Oyo, Ogun and Osun states were not selling the product yesterday, the Daily Trust can reports.
A NAN correspondent who went round the Osun State capital and its environs on Sunday reports that many of the petrol stations were under lock and key.
Meanwhile, the few petrol stations selling the product in the aforementioned states had long queues of vehicles.
Tayo Arowolo, a fuel attendant in one of the filling stations visited in Osun said the scarcity of the product was as a result of inability of many of the Independent marketers to lift the product at the Lagos depot.
Arowolo said most petrol stations in the state were hoarding the products and selling to motorists at a particular time while others stopped selling earlier than expected.
He said that if the situation was not urgently addressed, it would bring untold hardship on the people.
Mr Yusuf Ayinla, a motorist who was on the queue at Cornoil filling station at Old Garage, Osogbo, said it was sad that petrol stations were hoarding the product thereby creating artificial scarcity.
Ayinla, however, implored the appropriate authorities to do the needful before things become more difficult for the common man.
Another motorist, Mr Ayo Adeyanju, said many commercial drivers were taking advantage of the scarcity to increase transport fares.
Adeyanju appealed to government to intervene in the situation before it gets out of hand.
But the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) yesterday said based average daily supply of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) which it noticed has increased this year, there was no need for Nigerians to panic over
The Executive Secretary of the PPPRA Abdulkadir Saidu in a statement said the Agency has observed the sudden re-appearance of queues at some filling stations over speculation of short fall in the supply of PMS otherwise called petrol.
"PPPRA in line with its mandate to regulate petroleum products supply and distribution as well as establish an industry data bank has continued to monitor products supply in the sector in line with best practices. Thus, PMS average daily supply for the year 2017, 2018 and 2019 are about 46 million, 54 million and 56 million litres respectively. These indicate an improved level of supply in 2019," Saidu said.
"Based on the available data, there is adequate supply of PMS with over 21 days sufficiency. PPPRA therefore urges fuel consumers across the country to desist from panic buying as the Agency would continue to monitor the supply situation and take every step required to ensure that there is no disruption in the supply chain."