The Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) has called for the deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil and gas industry to boost the economy.
Mr Timothy Olawale, Director-General of NECA, said at a stakeholders’ meeting of manufacturers on Monday in Lagos that except fuel subsidy was removed, Nigerians would continue to suffer intermittent scarcity.
“There is the need for urgent deregulation of the downstream oil and gas sector.
“Over the last decade, the country has spent over N9 trillion on fuel subsidy; about N15.5 trillion on capital expenditure, N2.1 trillion on health and about N3.9 trillion on education.
“This is a misplacement of priority and shows that critical development such as education, health and infrastructure have suffered, due to the expenditure on fuel subsidy,” Olawale said.
He said the fuel subsidy regime had succeeded in creating phony and emergency billionaires, at the expense of millions of pauperised Nigerians.
The NECA boss decried the fuel subsidy regime, as it had not contributed to growth of the nation or the people.
“We are where we are today because, in spite of past sound counsel, government has not been faithful to the deregulation of the PMS market of the oil and gas sector,” he said.
According to Olawale, the non-deregulation of the petroleum sector has led the economy nowhere; but continued dependence on offshore sources for petroleum products.
“All we get is supply perennial shortage of petroleum products, loss of productive man hours, as a result of endless hours spent at filling stations, and massive corruption in the management of the subsidy dispensation,” he said.
The NECA director-general also decried increasing debt profile of the country, with huge percentage of the budget, over the last decade was going to debt servicing.
He said that borrowing could have been permissive, given the state of the economy in 2015, but not to the high level it has turned out to be.
Olawale said that incurring debt for purposes of development was not in question, but the over N24.39 trillion debt stocks taking over 20 per cent of annual national budget, to service debt should be enough source of worry.
He urged the government to manage the rising debt profile, both at the states and federal levels, as this trend portends a gloomy future for the nation.