Safety Nets Can Cushion Deregulation Effects – Atedo Peterside
Mr Peterside, however, supported the deregulation of the petroleum sector, saying “the need for deregulation is a bit stronger now than in 2012”.
Giving reasons the sector should be deregulated, he said: “The price of crude oil is somewhere around $45 and it will probably stay in that region or get to $55 thereafter.
“I am among those who believe that crude oil market has changed for almost forever with the advent of shale producers.
“If this government has shown that they are ready to take some pains, from the President, Vice President and others, if they do not do it now, I don’t know when they will ever do it.
“I like the word deregulation. It exists in aviation fuel and diesel, but in petrol and kerosene it is a problem,” he said.
The economist stressed that the payment of Petrol subsidy to marketers had become a means for few Nigerians to enrich themselves, suggesting that such funds could be paid directly to specific Nigerians, in a way it would get to all families.
Mr Peterside believes that the government could boost participation of Nigerians in the Bank Verification Number and the National ID card scheme with the direct subsidy payment if considered.
He also pointed out that the government had no business with fixing the price of petrol, explaining that a better approach would have been an announcement of a pegged price by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) downstream sector, leaving other marketers to choose their prices.
Mr Peterside further called for unity of purpose in solving the nation’s problems.
“As a nation, we are facing a crisis and we should forget about partisan differences and come together. We have to free the economy of the burden of the distortion called fuel subsidy.
“If government wants to give a price, I think the NNPC should be the one to announce what its current price is and leave the rest downstream marketers to fix their own prices.
“If the ruling party controls the Federal Government and some states and it cannot harness that to deregulate, realising the poor revenue era, I don’t know when they will deregulate,” he emphasised.
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