The piece of legislation seeking to remove petroleum products from the list of regulated commodities will soon be considered on the floor of the House of Representatives.
The removal of the petroleum products would be done through the amendment of the Price Control Act. Cap. P28, LFN which was slated for second reading on Tuesday, but was stepped down on the leave of the chairman, House Committee on Rules and Business, Emmanuel Okey-Jeff, who noted that the bill has not been forwarded to the committee, though already gazetted.
According to the bill sponsored by Gabriel Onyeama, “the first
schedule of the principal Act is hereby amended by deleting the
existing list and substituting thereof a new list in the schedule.”
The 13 controlled commodities under the principal Act are bicycles and spare parts, flour, matches, milk, motorcycles and spare parts, motor vehicles and spare parts, petroleum products, salt and sugar.
Commodities under resale price include beer and stout, building materials, cement, cigarettes and tobacco, educational materials, electronic equipment, pharmaceutical products, soaps and detergent, roofing sheets, soft drinks and malt products, textile and clothings (including baft and shirting) tinned meat, tyres and inner tubes.
Meanwhile, the proposed bill seeks to substitute the above provisions with 16 commodities namely “bicycles, tricycles and spare parts; flour, matches, milk, motorcycles and spare parts, motor vehicles and spare parts, salt, sugar, books and stationeries, fertilizer, rice, grains, cereals, electrical/electronic equipment, computers and computer access orange cement.”
The bill also seeks to provide for concessions and waivers, stiffer
penalties and for other matters connected therewith.
The new bill further seeks to increase various fines and imprisonment period for contravention of the prohibition of sale of regulated commodities above controlled prices.
It would be recalled that the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, had in December hinted that the Federal Government did not provide for subsidy in the N6.08 trillion 2016 budget presented by President Muhammadu Buhari to the joint session of the National Assembly on December 22, 2015.
Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of International Monetary Fund (IMF), during a chat with the leadership of the Senate, canvassed for discontinuation of the fuel subsidy which she noted does not benefit the poor in the society.
According to her, “Continuing the move already begun by the government in the 2016 budget to eliminate resources allocated to fuel subsidies would allow more targeted spending, including on innovative social programmes for the most needy.
“Indeed, fuel subsidies are hard to defend. Not only do they harm the planet, but they rarely help the poor. IMF research shows that more than 40 percent of fuel price subsidies in developing countries accrue to the richest 20 percent of households, while only 7 percent of the benefits go to the poorest 20 percent.
“Moreover, the experience here in Nigeria of administering fuel
subsidies suggests that it is time for a change—think of the regular accusations of corruption, and think of the many Nigerians who spend hours in queues trying to get gas so that they can go about their everyday business,” Lagarde noted.