President Muhammadu Buhari has said he has not taken a decision on the removal of subsidies on refined petroleum products as being suggested in many quarters.
Instead, the President said he had decided to handle the matter with care because most of the presentations he had received on the need to remove the subsidies had no depth.
According to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Mallam Garba Shehu, Buhari made his position known after receiving a briefing from the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and other agencies in the oil sector at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Monday.
Shehu said the President told members of the delegation that he would carefully review all the submissions he had received on the need to remove the subsidies.
Buhari was quoted as saying, ?I have received many literature on the need to remove subsidies, but much of it has no depth. When you touch the price of petroleum products; that has the effect of triggering price rise on transportation, food and rents.
?That is for those who earn salaries, but there are many who are jobless and will be affected by it.?
The President said subsidies were not necessarily the most serious problems in the nation?s oil and gas sector.
Rather, he identified lack of security, sabotage, vandalism, corruption and mismanagement as the bane of the industry.
?We have to go back to the good old days of transparency and accountability,? the President said.
He, therefore, directed the NNPC to review existing agreements for the swapping of crude oil for refined products.
The review, he said, was necessary in order to inject more honesty and transparency into the process so as to reduce costs.
Buhari also asked the NNPC management to do more to improve the supply of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (cooking gas).
Similarly, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, said on Monday that the only legal way the Federal Government could permanently remove the subsidy on petroleum products was to initiate an amendment to the Price Control Act or have it repealed entirely by the National Assembly.
He noted that in the schedules to the Act, petroleum products were listed among the items to be regulated through pricing.
Dogara also stated that an alternative was for the government to inaugurate the price control board provided for in the Act so that in performing its functions, the board could remove petroleum products from the list.
?This is the most legal way to do it so that subsidy can go permanently; it is not by policy pronouncements alone, it is for the government to quickly put the board in place and in a way this issue can be done with once and for all?, the Speaker added.
Dogara spoke in Abuja when he received a delegation of members of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria at the National Assembly.
The delegation was led by the President of the association, Mr. Chinedu Okoronkwo.