The Federal Government, Thursday, effectively puncture the rumour making the rounds that it was planning to wipe out subsidy on petroleum products.
Mr. Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for Petroleum, rubbished the speculation, Thursday, when he appeared before the National Assembly Joint Committee on Petroleum to defend the ministry’s budget.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari and his administration were not nursing such plan; at least for now.
Rather, he told the lawmakers rather than remove subsidy, the administration would focus on fixing the nation’s refineries and return them to capacity utilisation.
A report monitored on Channels Television, quoted the minister as saying that once the refineries were fixed, it would be easy to make petroleum products available to Nigerians at cheaper prices, thereby easing the burden of subsidy payment.
“If I talk about fixing the refineries, that’s also another way of dealing with the same issue. If we fix the refinery and we are able to pump from the refineries, that will also reduce the cost of subsidy on the government,” Sylva said.
“So the government is looking at it more from that angle than from the angle of removing subsidy. So it is not on the card at all.”
The Minister also debunked the notion that the nation consumes about 60 million barrels of petrol per day and regretted that some neighbouring countries were smuggling Nigeria’s petroleum products to the detriment of the country and its people.
“There is a lot of smuggling and because petroleum products are cheaper in Nigeria, a lot of our neighbours are taking advantage of the cheaper prices in Nigeria.
“So Nigeria is now almost subsidizing half of Africa which is very difficult for us to do. So you can see that the government is doing something about controlling some of these leakages. And once those leakages are checked, we believe that the cost of subsidy can be at least bearable,” he stated.