Chief Economist and the Director-General, The Heritage Centre, Abuja, Dr Katch Ononuju, has said the over N13.7 trillion that the Federal Government claimed to have spent on subsidies of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) has hurt Nigeria’s economy tremendously.
He called for the total removal of subsidies, adding that the money that would be saved could be channelled into transport, assembly and manufacturing of automobiles, education, and other sectors that will positively impact on Nigeria’s economy.
He said Nigeria could not have consumed the about 60 million litres of petrol daily as some government agencies had claimed.
He spoke in an interview with New Telegraph over the weekend.
Ononuju said: “The fuel subsidy should be removed. But some politicians who are using fuel subsidy scams to steal money do not want to hear that.
“The subsidy, for me, represents the most injurious action by the government which it used to distort the energy market. I think the fuel subsidy should be removed.
“I believe we do not need it. I think the subsidy has hurt the economy more than any other thing and we should remove it. If we had removed it, competition would have forced prices down, competition would have made investors put their money into refining.
“And now we have continued subsidies and some people have continued to find new schemes to steal our money directly. Now they have learnt to borrow and steal.
“Every intelligent person will know that removing subsidy is the inevitable thing to do. So we can put the money that is stolen in subsidy elsewhere. If you remove the subsidy immediately, nothing will happen.
“After the initial shock, the price of petrol will find its level and it will start to go down due to competition. We believe the 60 million litres calculated to steal our money amount to outright stealing because once you remove the subsidy, nobody will be taking our money and you see that money put back into some productive sectors like Education, Transport.
“Government active involvement in helping those with the capacity for assembling and manufacturing to go into real vehicle manufacturing. We could use the availability of vehicles on the road to actually augment because are already paying far and above the real price for petrol.
“I believe fuel subsidy should be removed and when it is removed, the government can then channel the money spent on subsidy to some other places.
“The biggest fraud against the people is the fuel subsidy. How come Nigeria pretends to have the largest amount of cars in the world? There are different notions to the amount of fuel consumed in the country but the most realistic is the figure given by a former Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu.
“He put it around 19 million litres per day. But we see people collecting, talking about 60 million litres which if the claim is to be true, you need up to 2,000 trucks of 33 litres to lift the fuel and we do not have such.
“Now we are asking the government, where is the money gotten from the sale of petroleum? They tell us that they used it on subsidy and there is no more money for government recurrent and capital expenditure. So what we are saying is that there is a lot of fraud. Even if we are the ones supplying fuel to the entire Africa, the figure quoted is not true.
“There is no other country on earth that has that amount of daily consumption of fuel. The average consumption listed so far is a scam. Since the govenrment figure is shown in fraudulent numbers, I do not believe in that. I do not think we consume 60 million litres a day.
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