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Western Countries Implemented Fuel Subsidies. Why Should Nigeria Remove Them?

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President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria has insisted to the western countries that his country operates its own economic model and should not be subjected to assumptions of foreign experts.

He has rejected calls by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and other leading economists to remove fuel subsidy.

On Tuesday during an interview with Journalists, Buhari said though his administration planned to remove fuel subsidy last year, further consultation with stakeholders, as well as events, which unfolded this year, made the move increasingly untenable.

Defending his government’s retention of fuel subsidy against the advice of experts, President Buhari said: “Most western countries are today implementing fuel subsidies. Why would we remove ours now?

“What is good for the goose is good for the gander. What our western allies are learning the hard way is what looks good on paper and the human consequences are two different things. My government set in motion plans to remove the subsidy late last year. After further consultation with stakeholders, and as events unfolded this year, such a move became increasingly untenable,” President Buhari said.

President Buhari said boosting domestic production for refined products would stabilise prices, pointing out that the exchange rate is still susceptible to external shocks that could suddenly and severely affect Nigerian citizens.

He said: “As we step up domestic production – both in fuel, enabled by Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and food (agricultural policies) – the inflationary threat shall diminish, and we can move toward unification.

“Boosting internal production for refined products shall also help. Capacity is due to step up markedly later this year and next, as private players and modular refineries (Dangote Refinery, BUA Group Refinery, Waltersmith Refinery) come on board.”

THE President also defended the funding programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), describing it as an “alternative economic model.”

The CBN’s critics have faulted the apex bank’s interventions in different sectors of the economy, linking them with the country’s high inflation rate (which currently stands at 17.7 per cent).

Last week, the World Bank in its Nigerian Development Update (NDU) said the special intervention lending, which spreads across power, agriculture, manufacturing among others, was crowding out risk-adjusted lenders.

But Buhari told Bloomberg that the CBN’s funding arrangements align with the country’s developmental agenda, adding that orthodox approaches had failed the country in the past.

He said the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, is labeled as being political and faces overwhelming criticisms because he chooses to follow a model that prioritise the well-being of Nigerians.

“The governor follows a model outside of the economic orthodoxy, he is labeled political. But the orthodoxy has proved wrong time and again. Instead, the governor is following an alternative economic model that puts people at the heart of policy. Nigeria should be free to choose its development model and how to construct our economy, so it functions for Nigerians.”

 

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