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United States reacts to FG’s Failure to Remove Fuel Subsidy, Electricity Tariff

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While speaking at the 10th anniversary colloquium of the Nigerian Development Finance Forum, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, said that Nigeria’s inability to eliminate subsidy on petroleum products and failure to hands off the fixing of electricity tariffs is hampering the provision of critical social infrastructure in the country.
According to Vanguard, the United States envoy who spoke at the event organized by Financial Nigeria Magazine, blamed the Federal Government’s inability to discontinue subsidy and allow market forces determine electricity tariffs for Nigeria poor social service delivery system.
Symington, who was represented by Country Mission Director of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Stephen Haykin, also attributed the low investment in the social services sector by government at all levels on low revenue from taxes and inefficient tax system.
He said that the decision of the country to continue to transfer public funds to keep petrol pump price at lower levels, as well as electricity rates below cost-recovery levels, meant that less funds are available to fund education, health care and other social sector services.
 
“One proximate cause of poor health, education and nutrition standards is low public expenditures. This in turn is related to very low public revenues due in fact to low tax rates and weak systems for tax collections”, he said.
 
“Low social spending is also as a result of transfers from government to petroleum and power sectors because fuel and electricity tariffs are below cost recovery levels.
 
“Fiscal, trade and other micro-economic policies tend to act as breaks on private sector initiatives on economic growth. Weak governance due to inadequate capacities or lacks of checks and balances also slows social and economic development.”
He that the conflicts across the country might also be responsible for the country’s poor social development.

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