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Workers oppose 5% petrol levy, power sector privatisation

Workers oppose 5% petrol levy, power sector privatisation

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Okechukwu Nnodim, Abuja

Nigerian workers on Tuesday kicked against the introduction of a five per cent levy on the Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, as proposed in the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill that was passed recently by the National Assembly.

Speaking under the aegis of the Trade Union Congress and the Nigeria Labour Congress as they commemorated the 2018 May Day, the workers also stated that the privatisation of the power sector had failed.

The President, TUC, Bobboi Kaigama, stated that the union was totally against the five per cent levy on the PMS, as he argued that the move was ill-timed.

In April, the Senate passed the harmonised version of the PIGB, which seeks to unbundle the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and merge its subsidiaries such as the Department of Petroleum Resources and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency into one entity.

The proposed law seeks to establish the Petroleum Equalisation Fund “into which shall be paid all monies payable to the Equalisation Fund, including a five per cent fuel levy in respect of all fuel sold and distributed within the federation, which shall be charged subject to the approval of the minister (of petroleum resources).”

Commenting on the issue in his May Day message, Kaigama said, “We are against the five per cent fuel levy hidden in the PIGB. The question is, why is it coming now that Nigerians are going through excruciating pains from the mismanagement of the economy?

“What is the necessity of the marginal levy when Nigeria has not fully broken the shackles of fuel scarcity? If the National Assembly cannot lessen our burden, they should not make it worse. That levy has to be removed immediately. The excuse that the money will be used to fund the Petroleum Equalisation Fund is not tenable.”

On the privatisation of the power sector, the TUC stated that the country’s “future still looks bleak and gloomy.”

It added, “The investors have failed in most of their undertakings so far and are even arm-twisting the government to cover up their failure. We urge the government to hold these investors to account and stop treating them with kid gloves.

“They must comply with the agreement they signed in their contracts with the Bureau of Public Enterprises. Excuses must stop. The contracts should be reviewed immediately. We need real investors to take over the power sector. This so-called privatisation has failed.”

On his part, the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, stated that Nigerians were yet to see the fulfilment of promises of efficient service delivery since the privatisation of the electricity distribution arm of the power sector.

He said, “Instead, things have gone worse with chronic failures by the Discos to supply prepaid meters, exploitation of Nigerians through estimated billings and reluctance to attend to the simplest complaints by electricity consumers.

“The Federal Government should stop any action plan that will further give money to non-performing privatised electricity distribution companies in Nigeria. We also call on the government to massively invest in the energy mix of hydro, solar and nuclear to drive industrialisation. In this regard, we wish to call for a reduction of duties on solar panels and other solar products instead of the recent increase of these duties.”

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