10 June 2014, Abuja – Controversy surrounding the recommendation by the Public Finance and Revenue Committee of the on-going National Conference demanding complete removal of subsidy on petroleum product has been resolved.
The committee’s recommendation had met a brick wall on Monday when it was raised on the floor of the conference with both those who were for and those against stating their positions with vehemence.
However, through a motion by Dan Nwanyanwu and 24 others on Tuesday, it was agreed that removal of subsidy on petroleum products within the next three years should be preceded by building of new refineries and repair of existing ones to full capacity.
The conference unanimously resolved that private sector investors granted licenses to build new refineries shall, within a period of three years, build such refineries or automatically forfeit such licenses to enable other participants who are ready and willing to build such refineries to do so.
Conference observed that the issue of total subsidy removal on petroleum products has been a recurring decimal on the programmes of successive governments over the years; and that there are merits in the arguments of both the protagonists and the antagonists.
The decision of the conference was drawn from the observation that sustained subsidy retention has become a major drain on the nation’s lean resources which cannot be left to continue indefinitely.
It was argued that although the subsidy regime has been fraught with massive corruption and may not necessarily be to the advantage of the poor masses as often indicated, immediate removal of subsidy without requisite mitigating infrastructure was bound to have a spiral effect that may see prices of essential commodities rising with attendant effect on the poor masses.
The conference also resolved that two Accountant Generals, one for the Federation and another for the Federal Government be appointed henceforth subject to the approval of the Senate, for a single term of six years.
Based on arguments over the non-functionality of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) due to the overbearing attitude of the Executive Arm of Government, conference decided that RMAFC should be placed on first-line charge.
Conference however rejected an amendment by a member that salaries and allowances of political office holders be placed at par with that of senior civil servants through amendment of Section 70 of the 1999 Constitution.
Also rejected was the recommendation that the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007 should be enshrined in the 1999 Constitution although it was resolved that its adherence be strictly followed.
– Daily Newswatch