The clarification, contained in a statement by the Senate spokesperson, Mr. Bamikole Omishore, followed the massive public condemnation trailing the proposal.
This is coming as the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) yesterday criticised the proposed N5 petrol levy suggested by the Senate, describing it as a huge joke.
Alhaji Tokunbo Korodo, the South-West Chairman of NUPENG, said in Lagos that the proposal was ill-timed and also smacked of insensitivity to the current economic hardships facing Nigerians.
He wondered how the nation’s Upper Chamber could think of another fuel price increase when Nigerians were “striving to cope with the current harsh economic realities.”
“How can the Senate propose such a bill at this particular period when poor Nigerians can hardly feed themselves?
“The prices of foodstuffs have tripled in the market, while workers’ salary has not been increased,” Korodo said.
Sen. Kabiru Gaya (APC-Kano), the Chairman, Senate Committee on Works, had on June 1, presented a bill entitled, “National Roads Bill” to the House.
The bill recommends that Nigerians should pay N5 levy on every litre of imported petroleum products and that levy will form part of the proposed national roads fund.
It also recommends the deduction of 0.5 per cent on fares paid by passengers travelling on inter-state roads to commercial mass transit operators as well as the return of toll gates on federal roads, among others.
Korodo said: “Just a year ago, the pump price of petrol was increased from N87 to N145 per litre and Nigerians accepted the increment because of the sincerity of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
“Any attempt to adjust the price of petrol under any guise will be resisted by Organised Labour.”
The NUPENG chief called on well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the leadership of the Senate to step down the bill.
The Senate spokesperson, Mr. Bamikole Omishore, in a statement clarifying the stand of the Senate, said: “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 reviewing 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 required 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 and implemented within the existing charges template rather than a calculation arrived at in addition to the price of the product.”
He added that the charge is to be accommodated within the pricing charge template in effect within the PPPRA and that it was to ensure that our roads can come back to life.