Oil Subsidy Removal: Jonathan still consulting – Okonjo-Iweala

Emma Ujah & Okey Ndiribe

15 December 2011, Sweetcrude, ABUJA— Contrary to reports that the Nigerian government has finally removed fuel subsidy, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, says President Goodluck Jonathan was sill consulting and would announce his decision on the issue at the end of the consultations.

“Mr. President is consulting widely on the subsidy issue. He has been consulting with various stakeholders in the country, including private sector operators, students, religious leaders and others. At the end of the wide consultation, we will give him room to take a decision,” she said at the briefing on the 2012 budgetary allocations in Abuja.

Thrice, journalists tried to glean information from the minister and each time she stuck to her position that the President was still consulting on the subsidy which has become an extremely volatile issue.

“I know you will come through various ways to make me say something on the subsidy but what I have told you earlier is the position. The President is still consulting. His decision will be made public at the end,” she insisted.

On the $70 per barrel crude oil benchmark, the minister explained that the decision to reduce it from the initial $75 per barrel was a product of wide consultation with oil industry experts in the country and abroad and that there was a convergence of opinions that $70 per barrel was comfortable.

Currently, the minister said, earnings into the Excess Crude Account was about $4.2 billion and that the Sovereign Wealth Fund would be utilised for boosting infrastructure facilities as well as play the role of a stabilisation fund.

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