Consult widely on subsidy, EU cautions Jonathan

Emma Ujah
& Victoria Ojeme

14 December 2011, Sweetcrude, ABUJA—European Union Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. David MacRae, has urged the Nigerian government to engage in wider consultations and enlightenment of the public on fuel subsidy removal for proper understanding.

He said the negative reaction from the general public on the proposed removal of subsidy from petroleum products was an indication that the generality of Nigerians was yet to come to terms with the benefits that the government claimed was inherent in the policy.

MacRae said: “It is not a popular issue according to the surveys that we have seen. I think the reactions of the general public, which is negative, is in part due to lack of trust. They are not sure if anything better can come out of it. I think it relates to the issue of governance.

“After many years of mistrust, when a new administration comes with such an idea like this, there has to be a clarification. People need to know better what amount of budget will be needed. I have heard public officers say unless the government removed the oil subsidy, Nigeria could become as broke as Greece.

“I think the Nigerians have to be informed of the facts of the matter. In a general context, subsidy on petroleum products is not a thing that countries generally want to do. If you want to help poor people you have to look at the social sectors —water, health education and access to jobs.”

He said what most countries do for their citizens is to “provide basic services like water, health, education and mass employment. Rather than subsidise petroleum products, we impose heavy taxes on fuel because it is our source of revenue.”

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