Senators Insist on December 23rd Timeline for Subsidy Removal

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Senators from different lines of political parties have said that the National Assembly will not pass the proposal to abolish gasoline subsidies as presented by President Muhammadu Buhari in order not to create a crisis for the new administration that will succeed him next year. The Long-Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP), proposed N3.6 trillion in the 2023 budget for fuel subsidies, which was from January to June.

The Senate Joint Committee on Finance and Economic Planning, which worked on the document while presenting its report last week in plenary, cut the N3.6 trillion support provision to N1.7 trillion in order to reduce the N11.3 trillion fiscal deficit that was contained. In MTEF / FSP. However, the Senate committee’s proposal on support was rejected in plenary, but the House approved the committee’s N1.7 trillion recommendation.

Last Friday, both houses of Parliament had proposed ending the support system under his administration on May 29, 2023. However, some senators who spoke with reporters on the issue pledged to extend the deadline for eliminating subsidies until the end of 2023, and said that stopping the subsidy system while a new administration takes over would create a lot of crisis. Hence they pledged to rewrite the financial document to ensure that the deadline for stopping subsidy payments is changed to December 2023.

The chief officer in the upper chamber representing Enugu North Senatorial County, Senator Chukwuka Utazi, said his colleagues would not allow the support system to end in the middle of next year. “For us in the Senate, as we went through the MTEF/FSP program, we approached this issue in our own wisdom and said it was futile.” We said it will end in December next year. This is because we do not want to create a problem for the government that will succeed President Buhari. We don’t want Nigerians to start attacking the new government from day one. So it is better to keep it until next December year. The budget is now in the National Assembly, we have the powers and we have taken this decision in the MTEF / FSP,” he said.

Otazi noted that the effective implementation of the 2023 Privatization Bill will be determined by how the government will deal with oil theft in the Niger Delta. Similarly, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Barau Gibrin, said Buhari had suggested that the subsidy system expire in June, but the Senate would reconsider the issue. He said the president had presented two scenarios: the first is to provide funds to end June next year. The second scenario is that it ends in December but there will be no money to fund capital projects. By what was presented on Friday, it is due to expire in June of next year.
Jibrin praised the Buhari government for improving the country’s infrastructure development. “This is the first government since 1999 that has invested so much in infrastructure. The government has done very well…There must be an enabling environment if a country is to achieve economic growth and buoyancy. Infrastructure development is very important in the life of management. It is one of the fundamentals needed to achieve growth,” he declared. The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Women’s Affairs, Senator Betty Appiavi, also assured Nigerians that the nation’s parliament will do what is necessary on the issue of support.

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