…payment to be made digitally – FG
The Senate yesterday expressed concern over the rationale for choosing the beneficiaries of the federal government’s planned disbursement of N2.4trillion palliatives to cushion the immediate effects of the fuel subsidy removal next year,
The Senate also declared that there is no provision for the N5,000 monthly subsidy allowance for 40 million Nigerians as transportation allowance proposed by the federal government in the 2022 budget.
Minister of finance, budget and national planning, Zainab Ahmed, had said that there will be N5,000 monthly transportation allowance for the 40 million poorest Nigeria to cushion the effects of fuel subsidy removal, an intervention programme that will last for one year.
Senator Adeola Olamilekan Solomon, chairman, Senate Committee on Finance who spoke with journalists after submission of his committee’s budget proposal, said that no provision for such allowance is currently before the National Assembly, just as he queried the criteria that would be used to determine the beneficiaries of the transportation allowance.
He added that before the Executive can embark on such intervention, the proposal must come to the National Assembly, adding that, for now, the proposal is still a rumour to him as the chairman Committee on Finance.
He said, “I don’t want to go into details; if there is something like that, a document needs to come to the National Assembly; and how do they want to identify the identity of the beneficiaries. This is not provided for in 2022 budget proposal – which is N2.4 trillion.
“The minister of finance, budget and national planning was quoted as saying that 40 million Nigerians will be paid N5,000 as transportation allowance in lieu of the fuel subsidy.
“I don’t want to go into details for now. I believe that if such proposal is to come to pass, a document to that effect must be sent to National Assembly for us to see how feasible this is and how do we identify the 40 million Nigerians that are going to benefit from this process. There are still a lot of issues to be deliberated upon and looked into if eventually this will come to pass, and how do we raise this money to pay these 40 million Nigerians.
“So, this is not provided for already in the 2022 budget. We don’t have anywhere in the budget where 40 million Nigerians will collect N5,000 monthly as transportation allowance totaling N2.4 trillion,” he said.
“I know that there must be a budgetary provision for this, for us (National Assembly) to consider. That is why I said it is still news out there until it formally comes to the National Assembly for either a virement to the budget or reordering of the budget. For now, I still want to take it as a rumour until it is formally presented before the National Assembly,” he added.
Meanwhile,the Federal government says its transport subsidy payment of N5,000 to the vulnerable would be transferred digitally for a minimum period of six months and a maximum of 12 months.
This, the government noted, will happen after the removal of fuel subsidy in June 2022 to give people time to adjust.
Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, made this known on Wednesday while briefing State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.
She underscored that as at the last Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting, fuel subsidy costs the country nearly N250 billion per month and three trillion annually as the NNPC remits near-zero naira.
According to her, this has made the removal expedient. The support fund upon approval from FAAC for 20-40 million Nigerians will not be done in cash.
She further encouraged states to financially contribute to the N5,000 relief fund to improve the productive abilities of Nigerians.
On Tuesday the minister said Nigeria will remove fuel subsidies by 2022 and replace them with a N5000-a-month transportation grant to the poorest Nigerians.
Speaking at the launch of the World Bank Nigeria Development Update (NDU), the minister said the grant will go to about 30 to 40 million Nigerians who make up the poorest population of the country.
She said the final number of beneficiaries will depend on the resources available after the removal of the fuel subsidy.