Fuel Subsidy To Go – Minister
The Minister of State for Petroleum Timipre Sylva has hinted of government plan to remove the current subsidy on petrol.
The minister told reporters there was no going back on the decision because the government could no longer afford it.
Sylva explained that although the withdrawal of subsidy would be painful initially, it would pay off for the poor in the long run.
According to him, the current arrangement favours a few rich individuals and firms.
Labour has described the plan to remove subsidy as an attempt to punish the people for government’s inefficiency.
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) said although desirable, government needed a stable policy in the petroleum industry.
The minister lamented that but for the provision of cash from signature businesses from marginal oil fields by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the shortfall in remittance into the Federal Account last month would have been unbearable for the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC).
Not forthcoming on the actual augmentation figure and how long the DPR will continue to intervene, Sylva said: “I cannot say exactly what the figure is. I will have to check with the DPR to get you the figure. Of course, you know that the DPR has always contributed to the federation revenue because they collect royalties and so on
“But as to filling the gap, it will not always be there, it is not as if the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has said that after last month, they will not be able to. You may not know when next they will announce it. So, you cannot say that they (DPR) will continue to fill in the gap.
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“NNPC announced that they could not make contributions to FAAC and the DPR came to the rescue.
“Luckily the DPR was in the position to step in and the marginal field revenues were used to fill the gap.”
Sylva added: “Labour and the Federal Government are not on different pages. Even Labour understands but what we have agreed is that we need to have an alternative and the process of putting it in place is what is ongoing.”
The minister, who spoke to reporters in Abuja, said: “Subsidy removal will come with some pains but the question is, can we continue with petroleum subsidy as a country? If we cannot continue, what options do we have?
“I think the best is take out subsidy. From the government of ex-Military President Ibrahim Babangida in the 80s, it has defied all efforts to withdraw petrol subsidy. Diesel is now deregulated, kerosine is now deregulated but petrol has defied deregulation. Should we continue with this subsidy?
“The Federal Government does not lack courage, our president does not lack political will.
“ Who is really benefitting from subsidy? It is confusing. Some people are benefitting but certainly not the common man. Though it does not really benefit the common man, when you try to remove it, the common man comes out to defend it.
“ Now, can we carry on with subsidy if you consider the amount of money swallowed by subsidy? If you want to carry on with subsidy, how do we get the money to fund it? The best way out is to take out subsidy because if we don’t, we will continue to beg the question,” he said.
“It was practised for a few months, but when the prices began to move up, some people started threatening and we had to return to it.
“ This is a democracy and having deregulated for a few months, we had to step back because this government has listening ears,” he said.
“The price differential is a major incentive for smuggling and it is very difficult to police the borders. We must find a way out of it; if not, you will continue to keep your price down in Nigeria while the neighbouring countries will continue to feed fat on subsidised fuel from Nigeria,” he said.
“The PIB is fully on course. We’ve had many meetings with the National Assembly and other stakeholders. Although the National Assembly had earlier promised to pass it in April, but that did not work, I believe that the passage will not go beyond June,” he said.
He said the administration of President Buhari had attracted about $16.3billion Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to the oil and gas sector.
He explained that the Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline which had been on the drawing board will cost $21billion.
He said the Federal Government would soon disengage from managing refineries.
The refineries will either be handed over to Operation and Management Contractors (O and M) or allow Nigerians to decide if the government should sell them or go public at the stock exchange.
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“The refineries in Nigeria have been the weeping babies of the industry but we believe that it is important that they are at least made functional before we can say this is the direction to take.
‘So if you have a dead refinery, how do you sell a corpse? It doesn’t make sense. Some people say no it is a dead refinery, so why are they fixing it? So what am I going to do with it?
“Is it not better for me to at least resuscitate the dead refinery then look for the option of what to do with it? If I sell it, they will say he is selling a dead refinery but now you say let me resuscitate before selling and they say why are you resuscitating it? So whatever you do they will talk.
“The so-called dead refineries were sold by the administration of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, they shouted and it was reversed.
“So now we said this time let’s try and fix it and they said why? So you can see the dilemma.
“What we want to do is ensure that the refineries are functional and when they are, the first thing we want to do is not to run them as a government. We want to put an O and M contractor.
“At some point, we will put out the advertisement for professional refinery managers to bid for managing them. So, they are not going to be subject to government issues anymore when they begin.”
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NLC Directs Officials To Monitor Banks Over Cash Scarcity
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has directed its officials across the country to go round and monitor cash dispensing situations at the commercial banks.
This is coming ahead of today’s National Executive Council, NEC meeting, leaders of orfficials of state councils of NLC and industrial union affiliates are to take pictorial evidence of the actual situations at the banks, “whether the banks are dispensing cash or not, and report same to the NLC headquarters.”
The monitoring which ends by 12.30 pm will enable the NEC meeting that will commence by 1:00 p.m.at the Labour House, Abuja, takes a final decision on tomorrow’s planned nationwide strike over the cash crunch in the country.
The National leadership of NLC gave the directive yesterday (Monday, March 27).
An official of NLC who spokelsaid, “Yes, the directive was given yesterday. Union leaders are to go around their areas to monitor commercial banks this Morning before 12.30pm and show pictorial evidence of the situation at the banks.
“Whether they are dispensing cash or not. The pictorial evidencesl are to be forwarded to Congress headquarters to be us assess the activities of Commercial banks before the NEC meeting by 1pm to enable us take a final decision on tomorrow’s planned industrial action.”
BREAKING: Old N200, N500, N1,000 Notes Remain Legal Tender Till Dec 31 – CBN
In compliance with a ruling of the Supreme Court, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has declared that old N200, N500, N1,000 banknotes remain legal tender till December 31, 2023.
The apex bank’s Acting Director of Corporate Communications, Isa AbdulMumin spoke in a statement on Monday. This is coming 10 days after the Supreme Court ruled that old naira notes should co-exist with new ones till the end of the year.
“In compliance with the established tradition of obedience to court orders and sustenance of the Rule of Law Principle that characterized the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, and by extension, the operations of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as a regulator, Deposit Money Banks operating in Nigeria have been directed to comply with the Supreme Court ruling of March 3, 2023.
“Accordingly, the CBN met with the Bankers’ Committee and has directed that the old N200, N500 and N1000 banknotes remain legal tender alongside the redesigned banknotes till December 31, 2023.
“Consequently, all concerned are directed to conform accordingly,” the statement read.
The highest court of the land had on March 3 ordered that old N200, N500 and N1000 notes remain valid till December 31, 2023.
This was after 16 states of the federation instituted a suit to challenge the legality or otherwise of the introduction of the policy.
The 16 states led by Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara had prayed the apex court to void and set aside the policy on the ground that it is inflicting hardships on innocent Nigerians.
The Supreme Court subsequently ruled that President Muhammadu Buhari’s disobedience of its February 8 order is a sign of dictatorship, adding that the President breached the Constitution of the Federation in the way he issued directives for the re-designing of the Naira by the CBN.
After the March 3 judgement by the Supreme Court, the Presidency, CBN and the AGF kept mum, throwing many bank customers and Nigerians into confusion as the ruling of the apex court contradicted the directive of the President on February 16 that old N500 and N1000 notes are banned and old N200 notes remain valid till April 10.
However, the Presidency broke its silence on Monday, saying the President never told the CBN and the AGF not to obey the order of the apex court.
“The CBN has no reason not to comply with court orders on the excuse of waiting for directives from the President,” the Presidency noted.
According to the Presidency, the President is an absolute respecter of the rule of law and that the “negative campaign and personalised attacks against the President by the opposition and all manner of commentators is unfair and unjust.”
The CBN had extended the deadline for the swap of old N200, N500, and N1,000 from January 31 to February 10 following complaints by many Nigerians but the Supreme Court, after a suit filed by the states, held that the Federal Government, the CBN, commercial banks must not continue with the February 10 deadline pending the determination of a notice in respect of the issue.
However, the President, in a national broadcast on February 16, directed the apex bank to release old N200 notes into circulation to co-exist with new N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes for 60 days — by April 10, 2023. He also said old N500 and N1,000 banknotes cease to be legal tender in Nigeria.
There has been a flurry of reactions and stark criticisms against the President’s directive including from governors of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Governors Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Umar Ganduje (Kano); Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo; and many stalwarts of the ruling APC have openly censured and faulted the President’s directive, arguing that it has no grounds because the case is before the apex court.
Leading Senior Advocates of Nigeria like Femi Falana and Mike Ozekhome have equally faulted the President’s move, saying he cannot overrule the apex court of the land.
CBN Asked Banks To Receive Old Naira Notes – Soludo
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has asked commercial banks to dispense and accept old naira notes as deposits, according to Anambra State Governor Charles Soludo.
Soludo, a former CBN governor, made this known in a statement he posted on his social media handles.
He explained that the Governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele gave the directive at a Banker’s Committee meeting on Sunday.
He added that Emefiele personally confirmed the directive to him.
According to him, residents should report banks refusing to accept the old notes.
“Commercial banks have been directed by the Central Bank to dispense old currency notes and also to receive the same deposits from customers. Tellers at commercial banks are to generate the codes for deposits, and there is no limit to the number of times an individual or company can make deposits.”
“The Governor of the CBN gave the directive at a Bankers’ Committee meeting held on Sunday, 12th March 2023. The Governor, Dr Godwin Emefiele, personally confirmed the above to me during a phone conversation on Sunday night. Residents of Anambra are therefore advised to freely accept and transact their businesses with the old currency notes (N200, N500; and N1,000) and the new notes”, the statement added.
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