Fuel Price Hike: NLC Knocks Transport Relief Bait for 40 million Poor Nigerians, Deregulation

Fuel Price Hike: NLC Knocks Transport Relief Bait for 40 million Poor Nigerians, Deregulation

…Says Decision on Subsidy Removal is Based on Monologue …Decries Attempt to Increase Fuel Price by 200 % as Recipe for Hyper Inflation …Accuses FG of Drumming Beat of World Bank/IMF The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has rejected the proposed N5000 monthly transport relief for 40 million Nigerians, conceived by the Federal Government, to stave

…Says Decision on Subsidy Removal is Based on Monologue
…Decries Attempt to Increase Fuel Price by 200 % as Recipe for Hyper Inflation
…Accuses FG of Drumming Beat of World Bank/IMF

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has rejected the proposed N5000 monthly transport relief for 40 million Nigerians, conceived by the Federal Government, to stave off the pains expected to be inflicted on the citizenry when fuel subsidy is eventually removed early next year.

Arguing that the attempt to increase fuel price by 200 per cent is a recipe for hyper-inflation and astronomical increase in the price of goods and services, the apex labour organization said it will not accept deregulation based on import driven model.

In a statement in Abuja on Thursday, its President, Ayuba Wabba accused the government of adopting “monologue” in arriving at its conclusion on subsidy removal and kowtowing to the dictates of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the issue.

He said there are no ongoing talks between Labour and the Federal Government as negotiation was adjourned many months ago.

Miffed at the rationale for government’s preference for deploying a whooping sum of 2.4 trillion Naira, which is higher than what is currently used to subsidize fuel price, to pay transport grant to 40 million Nigerians, Wabba noted that it will continually reject deregulation that is anchored on the importation of petroleum products.

The statement read in part, “The response of the Nigeria Labour Congress is that what we are hearing is the conversation of the Federal government with neo-liberal international monetary institutions.

“The conversation between the government and the people of Nigeria, especially workers under the auspices of the trade union movement on the matter of fuel subsidy, was adjourned sine die so many months ago.

“Given the nationwide panic that has trailed the disclosure of the monologue within the corridors of government and foreign interests, the Nigeria Labour Congress wishes to posit that it continues to maintain its rejection of deregulation based on import driven model.

“It is difficult to convince Nigerian workers why our dear country is the only country among the OPEC member countries that cannot produce its own refined petroleum products and thus adopts the neo-liberal import production model of refined petroleum products.

“We wish to reiterate our persuasion that the only benefit of deregulation based on the import-driven model is that Nigerian consumers will infinitely continue to pay high prices for refined petroleum products.

“This situation will definitely be compounded by the astronomical devaluation of the naira, which currently goes for N560 to 1US$ in the parallel market.

“The contemplation by the government to increase the price of petrol by more than 200 percent is a perfect recipe for an aggravated pile of hyper-inflation and astronomical increase in the price of goods and services.

“This will open a wide door to unintended social consequences such as degeneration of the current insecurity crises and possibly citizens’ revolt. This is not an outcome that any sane Nigeria wishes for.

“The argument that the complete surrender of the price of petrol to market forces would normalise the curve of demand and supply as is being wrongly attributed to the current market realities with cooking gas, diesel, and kerosene is very obtuse.

“The truth is that these commodities which Nigeria can easily produce have been priced out of the reach of most Nigerian families with the majority of our people resorting to tree felling and charcoal for their energy needs.

“Finally, we wish to warn that the bait by the government to pay 40 million Nigerians N5000 as a palliative to cushion the effect of the astronomical increase in the price of petrol is comical, to say the least.

“The total amount involved in this queer initiative is far more than the money government claims to spend currently on fuel subsidy.

“Apart from our concerns on the transparency of the disbursement given previous experiences with such schemes, we are wondering if the government is not trying to rob Nigerians to pay Nigerians? Why pay me N5000 and then subject me to perpetual suffering?” the NLC queries.

Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Mele Kyari had earlier announced that the price of petrol could jump as high as N320 and N340 from February 2022.

The NNPC GMD/CEO said that the price increase would be consequent on the plans by the Federal Government to remove subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit also commonly referred to as petrol or fuel. The grand optimism of the NNPC GMD was predicated on the claims that the removal of the fuel subsidy is now backed by an act of parliament, the Petroleum Industry Act which was recently signed into law.

The assertion of the NNPC GMD was re-echoed on Tuesday by the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, at the launch of the World Bank Nigeria Development Update (NDU), titled “Time for Business Unusual” where she announced government’s plans to disburse N5000 to 40 million “poorest Nigerians” each as transport grant to cushion the effect of the planned removal of the fuel subsidy.

The disclosures by the NNPC GMD and the Minister of Finance were in synch with the positions of the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Mr. Shubham Chaudhuri and the International Monetary Fund urging the Federal Government to do away with fuel subsidy.

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