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Sunday, April 14, 2024

National Economic Council unveils relief measures following subsidy removal 

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The National Economic Council (NEC) has announced its plans to provide relief measures for workers and vulnerable groups in Nigeria after the removal of petroleum subsidies, which has resulted in an increased cost of living. During its inaugural meeting under the current administration, chaired by Vice President Kashim Shettima, NEC established a committee with the task of developing a framework for organizing and distributing these relief measures within a two-week timeframe.

Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State, accompanied by four colleagues, revealed that the council explored the possibility of securing funding from the World Bank and London partners to implement a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) program for vehicles. This initiative aims to reduce fuel prices in the country.

The council also discussed other recommendations, including the N702 billion consequential adjustment on allowances proposed by organized labor, as well as the monthly amount of N23 to N25 billion requested to alleviate the effects of subsidy removal. NEC thoroughly deliberated on the impact of the removal of petroleum PMS subsidy on the economy and salaries. The council received recommendations from the national salaries, income, and wages commission on ways to utilize revenue increases to mitigate the effects on workers and vulnerable groups. These recommendations included a consequential adjustment of approximately N702,919.8 billion for petroleum allowances and a monthly offer of N23 to N25 billion to cushion the impact on workers.

A small committee was formed by the council to review and develop a term of reference for areas where these palliatives can be organized and dispensed to alleviate the challenges faced by workers and other vulnerable groups. The committee consists of representatives from different regions and relevant agencies, ensuring a comprehensive approach. The committee will work alongside the previous palliatives committee headed by former Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, integrating their input into the ongoing process.

Governor Dikko Radda of Katsina confirmed that the government has approached the World Bank for additional funds for the NG-Cares program. This program, which began in 2021 and runs until 2024, aims to provide emergency palliatives and support for small farmers, MSMEs, and other vulnerable individuals and households. The recommendations made include sourcing additional funding from the federal government, World Bank, development partners, and the Nigerian private sector. The World Bank can be approached for additional financing specifically for the NG-Cares program.

NEC also discussed providing legislative support to local automotive manufacturers. A presentation by the National Automotive Design and Development Council highlighted the need to support local manufacturers who have already ventured into the production of CNG and electric automobiles. This support can be given through legislation, as it will not only create jobs but also reduce the pressure on petrol prices.

The council also emphasized the importance of releasing funds to alleviate the suffering caused by the 2022 flood disaster in the country. Various committees have recommended the timely release of funds to address the needs of the victims and settle debts incurred by some states in assisting the victims. Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State urged affected states to promptly submit their recommendations to the Secretariat to expedite the release of funds.

NEC’s decisions and actions reflect its commitment to mitigating the effects of subsidy removal and addressing the challenges faced by workers, vulnerable groups, and victims of the flood disaster.

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