By Ajogwu Jerry
Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, has agreed to a cautious fuel subsidy removal amidst International Monetary Fund (IMF) recommendation that Nigeria should remove oil subsidies, stating it cannot be removed at a glance.
The IMF had recommended that Nigeria cut out fuel subsidies to free resources to build infrastructure and support human capital development.
Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the IMF/World Bank Group Spring meetings in Washington DC, USA, the minister maintained that the IMF recommendation was good, however it had to be implemented in a successful and sustainable manner.
“We are not in a situation to remove subsidy overnight. We have to educate the people, we have to show Nigerian citizens what the replacement for the subsidies would be. So we have a lot of work to do,” she said.
She said there was also the need to understand that you don’t remove subsidies in one fell swoop.
“It has to be graduated and the public has to be well aware of what you want to do”.
The minister also placed some demands on the World Bank.
She requested for review of some of its policies, especially policies on infrastructure funding.
“We are asking the World Bank in particular to review some of the new initiatives they have put in place. An initiative that involves them looking at implementation systems when they are providing funding for infrastructure. What we have found in Nigeria is that the Environmental and Social Standards (ESS) that they have put in place is causing significant delays in the roll out of infrastructure” Mrs. Ahmed noted.
“We understand that it is well intended but they have to review how it is implemented so that we are not overtly slowed down because of the new procedures,” she added.
“To the IMF, we just came out of the article IV review. The review was both of positive one as well as we expected very good advise coming from the IMF to Nigeria. They have indicated that they are available to provide technical support, to improve our liquidity management, debt management and other fiscal measures,” she disclosed.