Fear of political resistance, corruption hampering subsidy removal in Nigeria -IMF

The International Monetary Fund says the fear of political resistance, widespread corruption and pressure from interested groups is hampering the removal of the fuel subsidy in Nigeria.

The IMF said this in its ‘Nigeria: Selected Issues Paper’ report, which was prepared by a staff team of the Fund as background documentation for its periodic consultation with Nigeria.

The report read in part, “This fuel subsidy has taken up considerable (explicit or implicit) budget costs, constituting inefficient use of resources that could have been spent more effectively on pro-poor interventions in the economy.

“From the past experiences, the fear of political resistance for large price increase—coupled with widespread corruption and pressure from interested groups—has made the government hesitant to reform this untargeted subsidy.”

In January this year, the Federal Government decided to retain the controversial fuel subsidy for another 18 months following threats of protests by the Nigerian Labour Congress and other interest groups.

The IMF has also said that Nigeria will likely depend on overdrafts from the Central Bank of Nigeria to fund its proposed petrol subsidy bill.

It also said that the fuel subsidy negatively affects the country’s fiscal position, increasing the fiscal deficit.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Ahmed Zainab, recently said that Federal Government was planning to tap €2bn ($2.2bn) by this month or next of the money it raised in a Eurobond sale last year and targets more local borrowing in 2022 to help fund subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol.


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