From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by President Muhammedu Buhari, yesterday, received a N3 trillion bill from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as funds required to extend payment of petroleum subsidy in 2022.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, who briefed journalists said because of the present hardship faced by Nigerians and the lack of structures to support subsidy removal, FEC considered the NNPC request to provide the additional funding required for the incremental fuel subsidy payment in the 2022 budget.
She recalled that only N443 billion was made available in the 2022 budget for petrol subsidy from January to June.
“What this means is that we have to make incremental provision of N2.557 trillion to be able to meet subsidy requirement which is averaging about N270 billion per month.”
She said the request was considered by council which directed the ministry to approach the National Assembly for an amendment to the fiscal framework as well as the 2022 budget.
She said FEC also approved an amendment to be transmitted to the National Assembly to repeal clauses 10 and 11 concerning the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) operations in the 2022 budget and restore what the lawmakers had deleted amounting to N103 billion.
On if government would not be acting in breach of the PIA, should it continue to pay subsidy, Ahmed said: “The PIA had required that all petroleum products should be deregulated within six months of signing the PIB into law. And the six months would have meant from August to February. But when we were doing the budget we stretched that to June. So, it means technically, that from September there will be no more subsidy. But having to step back and take into account the realities of today, what it means is we have to go back and amend the PIA, so the ministry of petroleum resources will be leading on that. They had indicated that they will be asking for amendment to extend it to 18 months from six months. And then it means we can now also amend the budget. So the two processes will go side by side.”
On how government intends to raise the N3 trillion to fund subsidy, she said: “In the case of the budget, we’re looking at extending to December in the first instance, because this budget year is January to December and we’re going to engage NNPC to further interrogate the request that they presented with a view of trying to see how we can scale it down so that the country is not incurring N3 trillion for a fuel subsidy.”
FEC also approved N52.8 billion for the completion of three road projects across the country.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, disclosed this to State House Correspondents on behalf of Works Minister Babtunde Fashola, listing the benefiting states to include Akwa Ibom, Abia, Imo, Kwara and Cross River. He said 11 other contracts were also approved, across the six geo-political zones of the country were also approved.
One of contracts was for the construction of phase II of Ikot-Ekpene border, Aba to Owerri dualisation road project at the cost of N40, 157,000 000, with a completion period of 30 months.