As part of measures to cushion the removal of fuel subsidy mid- 2022, the Federal Government has concluded plans to institute a monthly transport subsidy in the form of cash transfer of N5,000 to 30 to 40 million deserving Nigerians. Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, gave hints of cash transfer on yesterday in Abuja at the launch of the Nigeria Development Update (NDU). She admitted that the subsidy regime is unsustainable and economically disingenuous.
The minister was of the opinion that the government had an opportunity to phase out subsidies during the COVID- 19 pandemic and cash transfers to safeguard the welfare of poor and middleclass households. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have been critical of the government’s policy of retaining fuel subsidies. The IMF, in a recent report, admonished the Nigerian government to halt both fuel subsidy and electricity tariff. Speakingyesterday, theFinance minister appreciated the IMF and World Bank’s candid view of Nigeria’s economy.
“Let me underscore the efforts of the World Bank Group on Nigeria’s DevelopmentUpdatewhichthegroup releases six monthly. We appreciate the candid assessment and outlook that the re-port offers and welcome this level of public interaction to discuss the broader findings of the report as they relate to our economic transformation and growth agenda.
“The report has widely acknowledged how the Nigerian economy has been resilient in the face of multiple shocks triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Notwithstanding, our economic prospects continue to improve with a forecast to continue to witness steady growth beyond 2022. We are closely monitoring economic indicators including inflation trends which currently reflect rising food prices and unemployment rate.” She was optimistic that: “The recent developments in the oil sector, such as the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021, hopefully, the full reactivation of the four public refineries in the country, and the completion and coming on stream of the three private refineries under construction in 2022, would significantly boost contribution from the sector to our economic growth efforts.’ The minister pledged the government’s commitment to its objectives of stimulating broad-based growth through diversification and the active participation of the private sector to ensure that our growth is inclusive.