December 4, 2023
Abuja, NG 24 C

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Subsidy Removal: More Reactions Trail Tinubu’s Proposed N500 Billion Palliative

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More reactions have continued to trail President Bola Tinubu‘s proposed N500 billion palliative to cushion the effect of the removal of fuel subsidy.

We report that barely 24 hours after the president’s move was made public, several quarters have reacted to the issue.

While some have commended the President for the move, others, like the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), have kicked against it.

Recall that Tinubu had on Wednesday written to the House of Representatives seeking approval for N500 billion to cushion the effects of petrol subsidy removal.

The president, in his letter, proposed an amendment to the 2022 Supplementary Appropriation Act.

He said, “I write to the House of Reps to approve the amendment of the 2022 Supplementary Appropriation Act in accordance with the attached

“The request has become necessarily important to, among other things, the source for funds necessary to provide palliatives to mitigate the effect of the removal of fuel subsidy on Nigerians.

“Thus, the sum of N500bn only has been extracted from the 2022 Supplementary Act of N819,536,937,815 for the provision of palliative to cushion the effect of petrol subsidy removal.”

The House is expected to hold a plenary today on the president’s request.

Reacting to the development, the Director-General of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Olusola Obadimu, applauded the President, saying the idea of palliatives for people with low incomes is a welcomed one.

He, however, questioned how the proposed palliative would be spent.

Obadimu told The Punch that NACCIMA would cease to make comments about the development until further clarification is given on how the fund would be utilized.

The NACCIMA boss noted that “The idea, in principle, is good. Of course, people expect some relief. It is in the statement that we issued. We said it clearly that palliatives would be a good idea. We argued for it. But talking about a specific figure is something we can’t do when we don’t know the scope. The concept is fine, but we need more information about the scope.”

Also speaking was the Deputy-President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Gabriel Idahosa, who said it’s a welcome idea. Still, the amount is insufficient to cushion the impact caused by the subsidy removal and the naira devaluation.

Idahosa said, “Whatever the president implements will not be sufficient to wipe out the impact of the two policies — subsidy removal and floating of the currency. So, it is going to be a partial effort to reduce, not eliminate, the effect of those policies

“There is a basis to complain if the details come out and only the public (sector) gets to benefit from it. Then everybody in the private sector has a reason to complain. We have to wait and see how the first set of palliatives will be designed, then we can complain legitimately if the private sector is not involved.”

On his part, the President of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, Mr. Laoye Jaiyeola, submitted that “The clarity is that all of us are saying we must have palliative for the people affected. So if you are asking for palliative and the president cannot spend one naira without approval; so, where can he get it if he doesn’t borrow it?

“Everyone said there must be palliative for the subsidy removal, and the palliative means that government must address the shock of the people. You know you cannot spend without approval and you also know that we are in deficit before; so, which other way can he get money if not borrow? So, he is following what the procedure says is legal.

“We support palliatives but it should go to the ultimate consumer and not those who sit in one place and are spending money. Identify the people that were affected the most and give them the palliative.”

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