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Saturday, September 26, 2020

Hikes: FG not insensitive, plans solar for 5m says Lai Mohammed – ITREALMS

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The Federal Government has refuted the allegations making rounds that its insensitive to plight of Nigeria due to recent hikes in both Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and electricity tariffs in the country, reports ITREALMS.

As part of efforts to cushion the effects, FG has concluded plans to provide solar power to 5 million Nigerian households in the next 12 months. 

According to the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed who spoke to ITREALMS on Saturday in Lagos while reacting to insensitivity of FG over the recent increases in petrol and electricity prices, said the truth is that the government can no longer afford the cost of subsidy, mostly under the prevailing economic conditions.

“Revenues and foreign exchange earnings by the government have fallen by almost 60%, due to the downturn in the fortunes of the oil sector. And there is no provision for subsidy in the revised 2020 budget. So where will the subsidy money come from? Remember that despite the massive fall in revenues, the government still has to sustain expenditures, especially on salaries and capital projects,” he told ITREALMS.

The minister also said that between 2006 and 2019, fuel subsidy gulped N10.4 trillion, stressing that is an average of N743.8 billion per annum, according to figures provided by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

He pointed out that drastic fall in the revenues of the government explains why it had to take certain tough decisions, even as it is acting to mitigate the effect of the economic slowdown by adopting an Economic Sustainability Plan.

“One of such difficult decisions, which we took at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in March - when oil prices collapsed at the height of the global lockdown - was the deregulation of the prices of PMS,” he said.

The minister posited that even with the increase in the price of fuel due to deregulation, PMS is still cheaper in Nigeria at N162 per litre than in the neighbouring countries, and indeed in the entire West/Central African sub-regions, when comparative analysis of petrol prices is done.

He cited some of these countries to include Ghana selling at 332, Benin - N359. Togo -N300, Niger – N346, Chad - N366 , Cameroon - N449, Burkina Faso - 433, and Mali - N476.

Also, FG, he said, has taken steps to connect those Nigerians who are not even connected to electricity at all.

"As you are aware, under its Economic Sustainability Plan, the government is providing solar power to 5 million Nigerian households in the next 12 months," he said.

Maintaining that this alone will produce 250,000 jobs and impact up to 25 million beneficiaries through the installation, thus ensuring that more Nigerians will have access to electricity via a reliable and sustainable solar system.

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