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Why FG can’t remove fuel subsidy now – Finance minister

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The federal government says it is yet to devise a workable formula for the removal of fuel subsidy.

Speaking at the federal executive council meeting, Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance, said removal of subsidy would have negative effect on vulnerable Nigerians.

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), had advised Nigeria and other countries to remove fuel subsidy, saying the money spent on subsidy can be redirected to health and education.

Four days after making the suggestion, Ibe Kachikwu, minister of state for petroleum resources, said the landing cost of petrol is now N180 per litre, with the federal government spending N1.86bn on subsidy daily.

Ahmed explained that while the country appreciates the advice of the IMF, what works for others may not be operable within Nigeria’s context, describing the country as unique.

She said the government is still considering various options and until a decision is reached, no action will be taken.

“In some countries, they provided buses to transport people, in some countries they provide subsidies in a manner that the people that are directly requiring the subsidies,” Ahmed said.

“We have not found a way to do it. What we are doing now, the subsidy, it is everybody that it benefiting, whereas it is the people who are really vulnerable that need subsidy.

“So, in the executive with the support of the legislature, we have to find a formula that will work for Nigeria. And until we do that, we should not be contemplating removing the subsidy because, indeed when we do, there will be people that will suffer. So, we are not yet there.

“We discussed this periodically under the Economic Management Team but we still haven’t found a formula that works for Nigeria. And you know that Nigeria is unique. What works for Ghana might not work here.

“So, it’s still work in progress for and there is no intention to remove fuel subsidy at this time.”

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