Reps demand implementation of N550b subsidy removal palliative

Date: 2023-11-16

• Senate decries over N1.3tr revenue loss to waivers, concessions in 2023

• Customs CG denies privy to over $3.2bn NCS modernisation project agreement

The House of Representatives has called for immediate implementation of the N550 billion presidential palliative intervention fund announced to cushion the impacts of fuel subsidy removal initiated by President Bola Tinubu.

The resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion jointly sponsored by Olawuyi Raheem Tunji (APC, Kwara), Abubakar Gumi (PDP, Zamfara), Gaza Jonathan (SDP, Nasarawa), Zakaria Nyampa (APC, Adamawa) and Uchenna Okonkwo (LP, Anambra).

In his lead debate at the plenary yesterday, Olawuyi lamented that the removal of petrol subsidy announced by President Tinubu in May has adversely affected the majority of micro, small and medium enterprises in Nigeria, forcing businesses to shut down, destroying means of livelihood and plunging millions into poverty.

He said: “The House is aware that President Tinubu in his resolve to address the situation, unveiled via his address to the nation, on July 31, a N550 billion worth of government interventions cutting across three major sectors of the economy viz: Agriculture (N200 billion), MSME sector (N250 billion) and transportation sector (N100 billion).

“The House is further aware that the presidential pronouncement put the period of the implementation of the N550 billion palliatives between August 2023 to March 2024.

“The House is concerned that nearly five months after the removal of petrol subsidy, the implementation of this intervention, especially the MSME component that directly affect one million nano-businesses, is yet to take off.

“The House is worried that unless we intervene, the present economic situation occasioned by the removal of petrol subsidy and the floating of the Naira will further worsen the challenges being faced by SMEs in Nigeria,” he said.

The lawmakers thereafter mandated the Speaker, Tajudeen Abbas, to meet President Tinubu with the view to address the delay in the implementation of the intervention. IN another development, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has denied having any details of the Customs $3.2 billion modernisation project. The Comptroller General of NCS, Adewale Adeniyi, made the disclosure at the National Assembly yesterday.

He was represented at a public hearing organised by the Senate Joint Committee scrutinising the 2024-2026 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) by the Deputy Comptroller, General Mba Musa.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Sani Musa (APC, Niger), is leading chairmen of Appropriations, National Planning, Local and Foreign Debt panels to conduct the investigative hearing. The Senators had inquired from the Customs CG details of the agreement signed by the Federal government on the modernisation of NCS.

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) had in April 2023 approved the NCS modernisation project, also known as e-customs, despite a court order restraining the Federal Government from going on with the initiative. The administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari specifically approved the implementation of the project to a concessionaire.

The concessionaire is Bergman Securities Consultant and suppliers limited as the project sponsor, Africa Finance Corporation UFC as lead financier, while Huawei Technologies will be trained as lead technical service provider.

Speaking on the project, Musa told the lawmakers that NCS did not have details of the modernisation agreement. “We are not privy to details of the agreement,” he said.

He further disclosed that NCS lost N1.3 trillion in 2023 due to waivers and concessions the former President Buhari-administration granted to investors.

He explained that waivers and concessions arrangements have deprived NCS the leeway to generate more revenue to the nation’s Consolidated Revenue Fund this year.

Not comfortable with the arrangement, Musa, Chairman of the Joint Committee, said the Senate would commence investigation into the granting of waivers and concessioning in the country.

Source

 


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