President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has described as both false and wicked the swirling reports about likely fuel hike, allegedly being orchestrated by the Senate, saying there is no such intention in the first place.
According to him, since appropriation for the road maintenance was no longer feasible and it was important they took care of it, the idea was suggested that they looked inward, perhaps, by reviewing the Petroleum Products Pricing regulatory Agency (PPPRA) inflow template and see the areas the suggested N5.00 could be taken from, albeit in bits.
“Whatever this Senate does, even if it appears in the estimation of our critics as anti-people, is done first with the interest of the people factored critically into accounts. We set out ab initio to protect our people and their interest and that has remained our guiding principle. We will not depart from it. Now ask yourself, on what basis will an increase in the pump price of fuel be justified at this period, when you consider the state of the economy?
The Senate Committee on Works recently presented for enactment by the upper chamber, a proposed law titled: ‘The National Road Fund Establishment Bill’, which is part of the 11 economic reform bills initiated by the Senate and already endorsed by the House of Representatives. The 11 economic recovery bills from where the National Road Fund Bill originated was initiated by the National Assembly leadership to help take the country out of recession.
The Senator Kabiru Gaya-led Committee on Works, which processed the bill, said “The National Roads Fund shall set aside an amount not exceeding 3% of the total monies accruing to it in the preceding year as Administrative Fund.”
The bill was recently listed on the Order Paper but could not be considered, because of time constraint. Gaya, a representative of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from Kano State, however pleaded with the Senate to pass the bill to facilitate the nation’s economic recovery.
The committee report was reportedly signed by 15 members and they were Gaya (chairman), Clifford Ordia (vice chairman), Mao Ohuabunwa, Bukar Abba Ibrahim, Biodun Olujimi, Ben Bruce, Gilbert Nnaji, Abubakar Kyari, Ibrahim Danbaba, Mustapha Bukar, Ahmed Ogembe, Sani Mustapha and Buruji Kashamu as members.
Unfortunately, the stories were written in a way that suggested that the end users, in this case the people were to pay for the increase. The import of the proposed fuel levy charge, according to the reports, was that end-users, including motorists, would pay N5 tax on every litre of fuel bought at any fuel station, insinuating that “This will worsen the hardship most Nigerians currently face.”
In a similar development, the Special Adviser to the Senate President (social media), Mr. Bamikole Omishore, in a statement made further clarifications on the matter.
“At the Public hearing on the National Roads Fund Bill the stakeholders were unanimous on the need to access a percentage of the funds for the sustainable maintenance of roads from the pricing template of petroleum products. While the unanimity was on a percentage, opinion varied as to what percentage. Some argued for 25%, 11%, 7% and 5% of the value of the price of the product.
“This position was held strongly since most other African countries have actually implemented an average of N25 surcharge on petroleum products for the maintenance of their roads.
“It was the widely-held view that we may not be able to go that far in view of the economic challenges the country was going through and the need to ameliorate the suffering of the ordinary Nigerian.
“The technical committee in review this submission determined that even at a surcharge of 5% which leaves the value at about N11 (at the current price of PMS) will be untenable not only due to implementation challenge that would have require that at all times, the surcharge will mean an addition burden is placed on Nigerians beyond the cost of the petroleum product.”
“Rather it was agreed that the charge be pegged at N5 (five naira) and implemented within the existing charges template rather than a calculation arrived at in addition to the price of the product.”
“Therefore, what the Senate has adopted is an innovative and most sensitive approach to eliminate the possibility of increasing the price of fuel in order to fund the Roads Fund. Now with what we have the charge on petroleum products for the purpose of funding road maintenance will have to be determined within the charges template as they already existing within the PPPRA template.