20 April 2014, Abuja – Since the commencement of the Subsidy Re-investment and Empowerment Programme 27 months ago, the sum of N959.8bn has been allocated by the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee for its implementation.
Findings by our correspondent showed that on a monthly basis, the sum of N35.549bn was deducted from the gross collectible revenue by FAAC and paid into the SURE-P account domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria.
SURE-P was set up in January 2012 to pacify angry Nigerians in the wake of the partial removal of government’s subsidy on local consumption of petroleum products.
In order to maximise the oil wealth of Nigeria, a fiscal formula for the sharing of petroleum products subsidy savings was put in place.
The formula required the Federal Government to warehouse 41 per cent of the subsidy savings, the state and local governments share 54 per cent, while the remaining five per cent is reserved for ecological challenges.
Of the N35.549bn distributed monthly, the Federal Government is allocated the sum of N15bn, indicating a total amount of N405bn for the 27 month period, while the states, local government and ecological fund got the balance of N554bn.
It was further learnt that within the first 18 months of the programme, the Federal Government expended the sum of N104.1bn on various projects.
The expenditure is contained in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper of the Federal Government covering the 2014-2016 fiscal periods.
A copy of the document was obtained by our correspondent on Thursday in Abuja.
According to the MTEF, the government in 2012 provided N180bn for social safety net and infrastructure development programmes under the SURE-P.
By the end of December 2012, the document stated that the sum of N72.44bn had been expended during the eleven months of operation (February to December) of the programme.
Further analysis of the document also showed that within the first seven months of 2013, additional N36.66bn had been spent on various SURE-P programmes.
The document read in part, “Aside from the main budget, the government had also provided N180bn for social safety net and infrastructure development programmes under the SURE-P window, following the partial withdrawal of fuel subsidy.
“By the end of December 2012, the sum of N72.44bn had been expended during the eleven months of the new programme.
“In furtherance of government’s desire to ensure that the gains of the partial withdrawal of petroleum products subsidy are well utilised, the National Assembly passed the SURE-P budget of N273.5bn.
“This consists of an expected inflow of N180bn and a rollover of N93.5bn unspent balance from 2012.
“As of mid-July 2013, N104.1bn had been expended on various projects and programmes.”
The MTEF was however silent on the details of the various programmes on which the amounts were expended.
Our correspondent however learnt that the sum of N8.7bn had been disbursed for railway programme; while maternity and child health intervention programme had gulped N3.8bn.
Similarly, N8.9bn was spent under the public mass transit revolving fund scheme; N379.3m for vocational training programme; and N72.03m for community service scheme.
For the 2014 fiscal year, the Federal Government had earmarked the sum of N30bn under the SURE-P programme for the East-West Road; N12.5bn for Abuja-Lokoja road project; N10bn for the Benin-Ore-Shagamu road and N12.5bn for the dualisation of the Kano-Maiduguri road project.
Others are N11bn for the Port-Harcourt-Enugu-Onitsha road project; N10bn as counterpart funding for the construction of second Niger Bridge and N20bn for Lagos-Ibadan Expressway project.
However, the programme is being threatened as a result of last Tuesday’s resolution passed by members of FAAC calling for the complete removal of petroleum subsidy.
The Chairman of the Forum of States Commissioners of Finance, Mr. Timothy Odaah, confirmed the development during a chat on the sidelines of the meeting held in Abuja.
Odaah, a Commissioner of Finance representing Ebonyi State at FAAC, described the payment of fuel subsidy as a scam against some states, especially the less industrialised ones, as it had made “the rich to become richer, while the poor are becoming poorer.”
He argued that if Nigerians had not protested against the removal of fuel subsidy in January 2012, most states would have experienced significant level of development by now.
He said, “In the previous FAAC, we constituted a committee for the purpose of giving a guideline or conducting some investigations on the issue of subsidy removal operations.
“Today, (Tuesday), we were briefed and the FAAC in its plenary session finally took a decision that petroleum subsidy should be removed entirely.”
– Ifeanyi Onuba, The Punch