The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) wishes to commend the Federal Government on the removal of fuel subsidy. Unfortunately, previous regimes had shied away from this grave but nation-building decision. It is, however, noteworthy that industry regulators and operators are already implementing the subsidy removal.

The Chamber is confident the removal will greatly impact the government’s coffers, reduce the outrageous cost of governance, improve accountability in the sector, impact government capacity to finance infrastructural development and to grow the economy. Furthermore, we anticipate that the decision, if followed through appropriately, will result in improved investments, especially along its value chain, promote healthy competition and even ensure product availability. Other gains are growth in aggregate employment, weaken the undue pressure on the local tender, improve balance of payments and economic growth.

Over the year, the Chamber, like many reputable international institutions and local organisations, has consistently expressed its fears and concerns about the enormous fiscal burden the subsidy regime had placed on the nation and its financial wellbeing, which are known to all and sundry.

Therefore, the Chamber appeals to Nigerians to express understanding and support the government in the proper implementation of this much-desired policy. Also, we urge the government to express commitment to the welfare of the masses, especially the most vulnerable groups and industries. This can come in the form of palliative provisions and interventions for critical industries. The government should also hasten to rehabilitate existing refineries – get them into proper functional state. It can thereafter completely sell them in an open, competitive bidding process or partly sell them using the NLNG model.

Meanwhile, I urge industry regulators to ensure a seamless transition particularly in terms of distribution channels and speedily address any violations, like tampering with meters that could thwart the efficient implementation of the policy. Although, it is almost coming in as a footnote, the vexing issue of oil theft should also be addressed.

Asiwaju (Dr.) Michael Olawale-Cole, CON



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