Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, on Sunday said the Federal Government had “no imminent plan to remove subsidy”.
The Managing Director, International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, last week called on the Federal Government to remove fuel subsidy, saying it is the right thing to do.
Addressing a press conference on Thursday at the on-going joint annual spring meetings with the World Bank in Washington DC, the IMF boss said with the low revenue mobilisation that existed in Nigeria in terms of tax to Gross Domestic Product, it was important for the country to remove fuel subsidy.
But speaking while briefing journalists on the outcome of Nigeria’s delegation meetings with investors and institutions at the IMF/Word Bank meetings in Washington DC, the Minister said, “IMF said that fuel subsidy is better removed so that we can use the resources for other important sectors.
“In principle. It’s a good suggestion, but in Nigeria we don’t have any plans to remove fuel subsidy at this time because we have not yet designed buffers that will enable us remove the subsidy and provide cushions for our people.
“So there is no plan to remove fuel subsidy. We will be working with various groups to find an alternative if we have to remove it. We are not yet at the point of removing fuel subsidy yet.”
Ahmed described the outing in Washington DC as a successful one, which provided Nigeria with the opportunity to review developments in the global economy and proffer potential solutions.
She said that the general advice for Nigeria is to prioritise cost-effective policies that would increase resilience to shocks, boost productivity and raise incomes of the bottom 40 per cent of the population.
“In my capacity as representative of 23 African countries, I addressed the IMFC and issued a statement calling for normalisation of trade relations among the contending parties and called for concerted efforts to supporting multilaterism and avoid protectionist sentiments.
“At the G-24 meeting, I drew the attention of the World Bank to some of the challenges we face in implementing our portfolio like the implementation of the new environmental and social safeguards framework which tends to slow down implementation of our infrastructure projects.
“My engagement at the IMFC also focused on the global policy agenda.
“Governors underscored the importance of strengthening market competition, encouraging innovation, tackling weak governance and corruption and meeting the SDGs.
“Governors underlined the importance of strengthening international coordination and cooperation to tackle shared challenges, given the potentially damaging effects of trade tensions on global economic developments, and impact of natural disasters on developing countries,” she said.