The Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, on Wednesday refuted media reports that the Federal Government had agreed with the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) advice on the removal of fuel subsidy.
The minister stated this when she fielded questions from State House correspondents after the meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) which was chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
She said that the government could only remove subsidy on fuel after having enough buffers to cushion the negative effects of the removal on ordinary citizens.
“Let me say that last week when we had the IMF/World Bank meeting, there was just one interactive session with Nigerian journalists.
“We didn’t have any session to discuss subsidy. It was in an interview that someone raised a question based on the Article 4 Report of the IMF.
“What they asked was whether we were going to remove fuel subsidy and whether we agreed with the IMF’s conclusion on subsidy removal.
“So, let me say that everywhere in the world where IMF does its review, it will always give advice because that’s the purpose of the review.
“And their advice is when you give subsidy – whether it is fuel or power, their advice is always ‘look at how you can exit doing that’. And that’s the same advice they gave Nigeria.
“So, when I was asked, I said we agreed with that advice. We need to find how we can exit fuel subsidy. But how do we do that?
“We do that only when we have enough buffers to cushion the effects of the removal for our people.
“It is up to the Executive in support with the legislature to agree on what those buffers are,’’ she added.
The minister maintained that even though the government periodically discussed the issue of subsidy under the Economic Management Team, it never contemplated removing the subsidy.
“We should not be contemplating removing the subsidy because, indeed when we do, there will be people that will suffer. So, we are not yet there.
“We discussed this periodically under the Economic Management Team. But we still haven’t found a formula that works for Nigeria. And you know that Nigeria is unique. What works for Ghana might not work here.