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    Saturday, May 14, 2016

    Subsidy removal: SGF urges Nigerians to refrain from inflammatory comments

    Mr Babachir Lawal, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) has called on commentators on the current subsidy removal to refrain from comments that can deliberately incite the public. The SGF in a statement issued on Friday in Abuja urged commentators to be dispassionate as they advance their positions. He urged them to endeavor to address the fundamentals as it related to the cost elements in the downstream oil sector. Lawal said the decision to remove subsidy was made in good faith and called for understanding among all stakeholders. The SGF said the major problem that had since the return of democracy in 1999 confronted the country had been the availability and cost of petroleum products. According to him, the issues advanced for the problem in the nation’s oil sector has been the inability of the country to produce locally the products it consumes. “Our situation over the years became compounded because of the total neglect of our refineries and rather than addressing the issue of local refining, we resorted to massive importation. “Regrettably, the monumental corruption that crept into the unreasonable business of products importation stayed with us until the departure of the last administration. “At this time, the nation’s foreign exchange reserve was completely depleted and the consequences of our past actions are that the nation today cannot afford subsidy payments,” he said. He said the lingered fuel scarcity in the country that had in the past few months subjected Nigerians to hardship was because government had been the sole importer of petroleum products. According to him, private importers have refused to do business at this time because they truly cannot sell at the prevailing government controlled price and make profit. He said the problem was also compounded by the inability of government to sell foreign exchange to the importers at the official rate. “In the circumstance, government is left with no option but to partially deregulate the sector and assume the role of a regulator. “For government imported products, the price is lower and we also have assurances that prices of products will come down as the production from our refineries become more regular and stable. “We also believe that the price will come down as a result of the competitiveness and efficiencies that this deregulation policy will enthrone,” he added. The SGF assured that government would continue to dialogue with labour unions to address their grievances.


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