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If the planned nationwide strike action planned by the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers Senior Staff Association of Nigeria goes ahead, the economy will bleed off about N150bn daily.
This was the revelation of the leadership of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) in a statement made available to Business Hilights on Monday.
It would be recalled that for long the both PENGASSAN and NUPENG had vowed to go on a strike if the Federal Government continue to put on hold the settlement of about N800bn in subsidy arrears owed to oil marketers.
LCCI however, traced the problem to the Federal Government’s encouragement of fuel subsidy on one hand, and control of the petroleum downstream sector on the other.
The statement signed by the Director-General, Mr. Muda Yusuf, noted that the fuel subsidy phenomenon had become a recurring distraction in Nigeria’s economic management space and should be handled once and for all.
LCCI averred that “It is one of the biggest burdens on the finances of government and a major impediment to the progress of the Nigerian economy. It is regrettable that the government has over the years got itself entangled in a problem, which should not have arisen in the first place”.
Yusuf argued that the economy had suffered serial scandals and monumental corruption in the oil and gas sector due to the phenomenon of petrol subsidy and noted that “We have consistently argued that the government should completely decouple itself from the business of importation, refining, transportation and retailing of petroleum products”.
“This arrangement has created considerable distortions and stagnated private investment in the downstream sector. These are enterprises that the private sector is best suited to manage.
“Government has no business fixing prices and subsidising the players. This model has failed several times over. If anything, it has created a major platform for bleeding the economy.”
On the looming strike, Yusuf disclosed that “It could cause a total shutdown of the economy. It would paralyse the chain of logistics in the economy as economic activities are driven largely by road transportation, both for commuting and freight”.
LCCI therefore called on the government to as a matter of urgency, “The government should therefore engage the unions and propose a credible payment plan to settle the arrears”.
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