NECA supports urgent downstream deregulation, end to rising debt
The Federal government has been charged to put in place processes and enlightenment machinery that would lead to the deregulation of the downstream oil sector, and deliberate disengagement from the nation’s debt burden.
The Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), which expressed the support, described the country’s increasing debt profile and the corruption-ridden fuel subsidy regime as twin-evil that have clogged the wheel of the nation’s march towards development in the last decade.
NECA’s Director General, Timothy Olawale, said despite past sound counsel, government has not been faithful to the deregulation of the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) market of the downstream sector.
Olawale also noted that the fuel subsidy regime has succeeded in creating phony and emergency billionaire at the expense of millions of pauperised Nigerians.
Expatiating, he recalled that over the last decade, the country has spent over N9 trillion on fuel subsidies, compared to about N15.5 trillion on capital expenditure, N2.1 trillion on health, and about N3.9 trillion on education.
According to him, this is a misplacement of priority and shows that critical developmental items such as education, health and infrastructure have suffered due to the expenditure on fuel subsidy.
On the rising debt profile, Olawale advised government to manage the growing stock, both at the states and Federal levels, as the trend portends a gloomy future for Nigeria.
He opined that borrowing could have been permissible, given the state of the economy in 2015, but not to the clearly humongous level it has turned out to be, adding that with the over N24.39 trillion debt stock taking over 20 per cent of the annual national budget to service should be enough cause for worry.
He said: “Let us ponder and ask ourselves where the non-deregulation of the petroleum sector has led our economy. Is it the continued dependence on offshore sources for petroleum products supply, perennial shortage of petroleum products, loss of productive man hours as a result of endless hours spent at filling stations, massive, and unimaginable corruptions in the management of the subsidy dispensation, among others. These are not sustainable.”