Thursday, April 24, 2014
   
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We Must SUCCEED Because Nigerians Must Not Suffer in Vain

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The Co-ordinating Minister for the economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala says: Rail Projects, Social Programmes, Refineries, Dams, Key Roads will be Completed from SUBSIDY PROCEEDS.

Nigerians will derive clear and measurable benefits from the ongoing deregulation of the downstream sector of the Petroleum industry in the form of focused, timely and well thought out programmes.

Such projects will include the construction, completion and rehabilitation of rail, refineries, key Federal highways, hydro stations, information technology and water.

This was revealed by the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala during a town hall meeting with staff of the ministry convened to discuss deregulation and the removal of petroleum subsidies.  

The Minister told the staff that she decided to speak to them because the ministry is a front line one and “charity should begin at home”. The minister also fielded very frank questions on aspects of the subsidy reallocation policy.

In addition, the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment (SURE) Programme under which the projects will be executed also provides for the implementation of short term social welfare programmes to alleviate the impact of subsidy removal on Nigerians.

These programmes will include mass transit, public works including training in artisanship for unskilled youths and social services to reduce high maternal and infant mortality rates. The projects will be funded from the Federal Government portion of the savings from ending fuel subsidies which comes to an estimated N478 billion in 2012.

She explained that subsidy removal is, strictly speaking, not an accurate description because what Government is doing is subsidy reallocation into areas that will have the most impact on Nigerians and the future generations.

Acknowledging the harsh impact of the removal of subsidy on Nigerians especially on food and transport costs as well as school fees, she says that government feels the pain of Nigerians but sincerely believes that it is in the best interest of the country to take the decision. She said the plan to introduce 1,600 buses into the country’s transportation sector as well as other measures being taken on mass transit were designed to ameliorate the impact in the short term, while assuring that the current high prices will not endure.

She said that the appointment of the Kolade Committee of eminent Nigerians to oversee the projects under the SURE programme was meant to boost public confidence in the process and assure Nigerians that “this will not be business as usual”

Staff of the Ministry who asked questions at the Forum emphasised that the effects of subsidy removal are biting hard on them and asked the Federal Government to look into ways of reducing the suffering of ordinary Nigerians. Some expressed doubt that Government will keep its promises, citing the previous governments who failed to do what they promised.

Responding the Minister said: “We feel your pain. We are human beings like you. That is why this must succeed. The suffering of Nigerians will not be in vain”.