Fuel subsidy: Civil society question $800m palliative loan

Oluwanifemi Ojo
Oluwanifemi Ojo
World Bank

The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre has questioned the over $800 million loan obtained by the Federal Government from the World Bank as palliative measures to cushion the effects of the proposed fuel subsidy removal scheduled for June 2023.

According to The Punch, this was in a statement released by the Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Musa-Rafsanjani, where he expressed his dissatisfaction with the government’s attitude towards Nigeria’s growing debt crisis.

Mr Rafsanjani noted that borrowing to fund post-fuel subsidy removal palliatives was strange and called for a return of the borrowed money.

He noted that “if the fuel subsidy removal process has been suspended as announced by the Minister of Finance after the NEC meeting at the end of April, then the government should return the borrowed money because what are we taking the loan for?”

According to him, the government should have enough savings from the whopping amount paid for fuel subsidy removal in 2022 and the first half of 2023 to fund the palliatives instead of taking additional loans.

In his words, “In 2022, Nigeria paid about N7 trillion in fuel subsidy and in 2023, from January to June when the country intends to stop paying the subsidy, it is N3.6 trillion. So if we are paying such a whopping amount of money when the subsidy is removed, we should have enough savings instead of taking additional loans, we can use the subsidy funds for post-fuel subsidy removal.”

The Executive Director of CISLAC also condemned the reckless spending of the present administration, with only a few weeks to go.

Mr Rafsanjani suggested that instead of borrowing money, the government should cut waste, and he questioned spending by the Ministries of Aviation and Communication and Digital Economy.

He cited examples such as the announcement by the Minister of Aviation that he purchased 10 firefighting trucks for over 12 billion naira and the approval of 24.2 billion to provide internet facilities at airports and other places by the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy.

“As a matter of fact, we don’t need to borrow. What we need to do is to cut waste. Just recently, we all saw the aviation minister announce that he bought 10 firefighting trucks for over 12 billion naira. Is this what we are borrowing to spend on?

“Also, we read that the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy announced the approval of 24.2 billion to provide internet facilities at airports and some institutions amongst other places. These are the things we are spending on a few weeks before the end of this administration and this is unacceptable,” he added.

He called on financial watchdogs to scrutinize all public spending that did not follow an adequate procurement process.

CISLAC also criticized the current administration for its financial recklessness, which he believed diverted public funds for personal interest rather than the overall good of the country.

The executive director stressed that the country was in a debt trap, citing records from both national and international financial and debt institutions regarding Nigeria’s debt, which revealed a state in crisis.

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