By Chijioke Nelson
BudgIT has expressed dismay at the lack of accountability and transparency by the Federal Government and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on the amount so far spent on subsidy in 2016, 2017 and the first quarter of 2018.
The group is insisting that it is in the interest of the public that detailed information of the amount spent on fuel subsidies such as the beneficiaries, the pricing template for arriving at the subsidy rates and the volume of petroleum products utilised be made open, while subsequent ones are henceforth carried out transparently.
BudgIT is a civic organization that applies technology to intersect citizen engagement with institutional improvement, to facilitate societal change.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, had recently disclosed that a total of N1.4 trillion is being spent annually by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as the subsidy for Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).
According to BudgIT, the amount is significantly more than what Nigeria intends to spend on Education in the proposed 2018 Budget, at N605.8 billion.
The group’s Communications Lead, Abiola Afolabi, in a statement to The Guardian, said: “There is a growing deficit in trust due to lack of due process in the NNPC. In March 2018, the corporation announced that it spends N774 million daily, roughly N23.99 billion monthly as subsidy on 50 million litres of PMS consumed across the country.
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“The public knows very little information on the beneficiaries of the subsidy payments and control process instituted to prevent theft of these funds.
“BudgIT notes that the subsidy payments have been a contentious issue for the last 30 years. Analysts have called for its cancellation due to the lack of accountability and transparency in the administration of these funds.
“Also, there are arguments that the subsidy regime constituted double taxation on the populace who pay the actual market price for PMS due to lack of adequate monitoring by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).”
The Lead Partner, BudgIT, Oluseun Onigbinde, also noted that the evidence shows that amount spent on subsidising PMS is always riddled with corruption.
“We noted this in 2011, prior to the elections and we are worried that this opacity is preceding the 2019 elections again. We are worried at the use of public resources without legislative appropriation or requisite transparency,” he said.
He said that BudgIT understands that NNPC, in recent times, has initiated a couple of actions in trying to meet up with the global standards of transparency and accountability, including actions like publishing its monthly report on its financial and operational activities.
“Notwithstanding this, the lack of information on the subsidy regime, including the amount paid and the beneficiaries are locked away from public scrutiny.
“Therefore, BudgIT urges the Federal Government, NNPC, DPR, National Assembly, the National Economic Council (NEC) and State governments to release details on the breakdown of the amount spent on subsidy, the beneficiaries, the pricing template for arriving at the subsidy rates and the volume of petroleum products utilised.