Impact of Fuel hike on the Poor in Nigeria

Friday, 20 May 2016 12:32
Impact of Fuel hike on the Poor in Nigeria Google

Economy is about the human person. The social impact of this price hike makes it condemnable. Although it seems to be a bitter pill which must be swallowed, its timing is draconian.

PRESS STATEMENT BY DIRECTOR OF CHURCH AND SOCIETY CATHOLIC SECRETARIAT OF NIGERIA AND EXECUTIVE SECRETARY CARITAS NIGERIA

The Department of Church and Society of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria is that unit that interfaces and interacts with the rest of society on social, economic, political and environmental issues. Its guiding principles are the Social Teaching of the Church, which have as one of its principal concerns, a bias towards the poor. When issues arise, the Church, through this department, looks at them from all angles but with a special preference towards how they affect the poor. In this department are such agencies as Caritas Nigeria and JDPC, the Episcopal Committee on Health, and the Episcopal Committee on Education. 

The Recent Hike in Fuel Price:

The recent hike in the price of fuel, economically, may appear justifiable. Hinged on the dollar crisis, poor access to forex means that independent marketers cannot sell at a profit under a controlled price regime since they have to source for forex from independent sources. By this almost- full price deregulation it means they could import fuel and sell for a profit. This would ensure product availability and end the waste of man hours spent in queues to buy fuel. The danger however is that as fuel importation is a free for all enterprise, there would be more pressure on the naira as marketers seek for forex, and higher dollar means higher fuel price. It has been the culture that independent marketers sell their products way beyond the stipulated price in a controlled regime, not to talk of a deregulated regime. The quality of fuel would be another challenge as all kinds of damaging products would flood the market, as our regulatory agencies somehow are not able to regulate standards efficiently. Government would still have to think of ways in which it would facilitate access to forex for existing independent marketers and how to tighten quality control of products.

There is no more excuse for not establishment refineries. Government should take the lead in building these refineries and leasing them to private companies. With the deregulation of price however, it makes it more attractive for the private sector to build refineries, for even if they source crude at international market price, they may still make profit.

Economy is about the human person however. The social impact of this price hike makes it condemnable. Although it seems to be a bitter pill which must be swallowed, its timing is draconian. It ends up emasculating the poor and swelling the ranks of those who are below the poverty level. We Nigerians are our worst enemies, as we use every opportunity to make life more difficult for fellow Nigerians. Nigerians use the least chance to increase prices, and the prices never come down even after the situation has changed. We urge Pastors and Imams to appeal to members of their congregation who are traders and facility and services providers not to be greedy but to be considerate of other Nigerians.

NLC Strike: We sympathize with NLC over this situation. However a strike always makes the poor suffer more; for when everything is grounded, it is the poor person that suffers the most. NLC should continue its negotiation with government over the minimum wage, as this remains the best option. Prolonged strikes that go on for weeks ultimately are not in the interest of the common man.

Sincerity of Government: We believe at least in the sincerity of President Muhammadu Buhari to tackle the issues confronting the nation. We however urge government to widen its scope of experts so that many more persons who can contribute to the growth of the nation would be brought on board. 

We commend government for recovered funds. These funds should be ploughed in to develop necessary infrastructure. The publicizing of those involved in the arms scandal by EFCC is good for the psyche of the nation, to reduce the impunity of public officials; however this must not remain a one sided prosecution. Government should go beyond Abacha to recover funds stolen under the military era.  Those who are able to return their loots should be given amnesty.

The 500 billion naira set aside for social programmes for the poor should not be allowed to be infected by the Nigerian factor. Government should use this opportunity and consult with international development agencies and also reach out to civil society groups in country who could give support to government to actualize this initiative. The vision of the 2030 Agenda mandates government to go into broad partnerships that would help end poverty in the world.  

 

About the author: Fr. Evaristus Bassey is the Director Church and Society and Executive Secretary, Caritas Nigeria/JDPC at the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria.

Read 1778 times Last modified on Tuesday, 14 February 2017 16:24

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