Different stakeholders in the economic sector including the Minister of Finance Zainab Ahmed have called for the removal of fuel subsidy for the benefit of Nigerians.
The stakeholders made the call on Tuesday in Abuja at the launch of the Nigeria Development Update (NDU) report for 2022, by the World Bank.
Minister of Finance, Budget and Economic Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said the non-removal of fuel subsidy was hurting the nation and impeding investments in human capital development.
Ahmed, a panellist at the launch of the NDU, said if subsidy was not in the budget, there would be no need to borrow money to finance fuel subsidy.
She said: “Nigerians need to understand that this fuel subsidy government is paying now is affecting the nation.
“N4.5 trillion spent on subsidy is money we would have invested in health and education, but we are investing it in consumption, which is very wasteful.
“How many Nigerians own vehicles and generators that are benefiting from this subsidy’’?
She said the removal of subsidy was to take effect from June 2022, but because of the present political and socio-economic environment, subsidy would remain for an additional 12 months to 18 months.
“On the fiscal side, this is not something we had planned, but the reality of the times showed increased inflation and food prices are already increasing; so removing subsidy will further escalate the problems,’’ she said.
The minister said that the ministry had designed a programme to help to reduce the cost of subsidy “so we do not hit the N4 trillion additional deficit.
Gov. Charles Soludo of Anambra, also a panellist, said the removal of subsidy was long overdue adding that it benefited nobody.
“Imagine if N2 trillion or N3 trillion is saved today as a result of the removal of subsidy.
“Each state of the federation could be given about N50 billion to fix roads and the Federal Government will still have some N1 trillion to use.
“If the country continues with the subsidy, the CBN will continue to need money; it is a circuit. That deficit will continue to rise and how does the Federal Government pay its bills,’’? he queried.