By Chris Agabi
The Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) has thrown its weight behind the subsidy removal.
Dr. Mohammed B. Shehu, the Chairman, RMAFC in a statement said said the Commission supports the recent subsidy removal announced by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
It described the subsidy “removal as long overdue and a major challenge to the economic growth and development of the country.”
The RMAFC Chairman in the statement recalled that the “Commission had consistently expressed its position on the vexatious issue of subsidy removal since the time of late Hamman Tukur who chaired the Commission during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.”
According to Shehu, “the Commission’s position was premised on the fact that the continued payment of humungous amounts to a privileged few in the name of subsidy was a major drain on the nation’s scarce resources as the Nigeria National Petroleum Company limited (NNPCL) one of the major sources of revenue to the Federation Account had since stopped contributing to the national pause due to the fuel subsidy regime which is characterized by opaqueness and other ambiguities.”
“As one of the fourteen (14) Federal Executive Bodies established by section 153 (1)(n) and empowered by paragraph 32 (a) and (c) of part 1 of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution(as amended), RMAFC has the constitutional mandate to monitor the accruals to and disbursement of Revenue from the Federation Account and also advise Federal and State Governments on fiscal efficiency and methods by which their revenue can be increased” the statement indicated” the statement said.
The Chairman described the 29th May, 2023 pronouncement of the removal of fuel subsidy by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu at his inaugural speech, due to the non-budgetary provision for subsidy as a master stroke that broke the jinx stating emphatically that it is the appropriate step in the right direction.
“The country can no longer sustain fuel subsidies whose demerits far outweigh its benefits to the citizenry. It is saddening to note that since 1st January, 2022 to date, the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) has not been contributing to the Federation Account due to the claimed subsidy payments. The total amount withheld by the NNPCL as claimed subsidies for this period amounted to N8,480,204,553,608.13 as reported by the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation(OAGF) which is yet to be reconciled by the RMAFC, OAGF, and NNPCL”.
He adds that in a situation whereby the records of subsidy transactions are not transparent and crude oil prices are being determined globally, it would be unwise to sustain the phantom payments of subsidy at the detriment of other critical sectors of the economy thus making its sustainability difficult for the Government.
Mr. Shehu further emphasized that the removal of fuel subsidies will eliminate the alleged uncertainty surrounding the subsidy regime just as it will free funds for the execution of critical national development and human capital enhancement projects such as the provision of an affordable transport system, Investment in the Education Sector, improvement in Health care and infrastructural development, and resuscitation of domestic Refineries to eliminate dependence on imported fuel, amongst other key sectors.
The Commission’s Chairman also poured encomiums on the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari for providing the necessary enabling environment for the successful take-off of the first private refinery easily the largest in the World built by Alh. Aliko Dangote, the World’s wealthiest Black Man believing that when it becomes operational, the country will witness a glorious dawn in hassle-free oil production and distribution in the absence of subsidy regime.
While commending President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for his uncommon courage and political will in doing away with the issue of fuel subsidy, he urged the new administration to work out strategies that would cushion the attendant effect of the new policy adding that deterrent measures should be earnestly taken to bring to book all the economic saboteurs who have contributed to our National adversity in accordance with the extant laws of the Federation.