Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Subsidy Removal: Sell Nigeria’s four refineries to investors, organised private sector advises Buhari regime

“The resuscitation of the four refineries that millions of dollars had been invested in…or outright sale of the refineries to private investors .”

• December 15, 2021
Port Harcourt refinery/President Muhammadu Buhari
Port Harcourt refinery/President Muhammadu Buhari

The Organised Private Sector of Nigeria (OPSN) has advised President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime to sell the country’s four refineries to private investors ahead of its planned total removal of fuel subsidy.

“We urge that government should first, as a matter of boosting Nigerians and other stakeholders confidence and demonstrating its goodwill, address the following as a prerequisite to the total removal of the subsidy,” said the chairman of OPSN, Taiwo Adeniyi, at a news conference on Tuesday in Lagos. “The resuscitation of the four refineries that millions of dollars had been invested in their Turn Around Maintenance or outright sale of the refineries to private investors to enhance their sustainability.”

It also urged the regime to take steps to address possible socio-economic issues arising from the proposed subsidy removal.

Mr Adeniyi noted that the controversy generated by the proposed fuel subsidy removal was getting to a “crescendo,” hence, the need to guide Mr Buhari’s regime and other stakeholders.

“Also, specific reliefs to address the anticipated drastic reduction in the citizen’s disposable income and standard of living. It is expected that an increase in fuel price will have a direct and immediate consequence on transportation and costs of foodstuff, among others: a more sustainable, well-thought-out relief should be proposed,” OPSN added.

It prescribed specific relief to workers and organised businesses, not only to reduce the immediate effects of the increase, “but reliefs that will ensure and enhance the capacity of businesses to remain sustainable and continue to provide jobs.”

The organised private sector further urged the regime to engage critical stakeholders, including employers and organised labour, to have a more realistic strategy to cushion the effects of the subsidy removal.

“We state that fuel subsidy removal based on the argument of international oil prices and other parameters without considering the context of those climes will be unrealistic within the context of our environment,” the body added. “The nation cannot afford any form of economic disruption and industrial disharmony as this could sound the death-knell of many organisations.”

The OPSN chairman expressed concern over recent pronouncements by the government on reintroducing the excise duty on carbonated drinks.

He reasoned that the economic situation that necessitated the excise’s suspension in 2009 had not abated, and businesses currently face greater hardship than what obtained in 2009.

“The introduction of the tax will be counter-productive as it will lead to further stifling of businesses in that industry. We, therefore, urge the government to jettison the idea of reintroducing the excise duty on carbonated drinks,” Mr Adeniyi stated.

(NAN)

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