The Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku, on Friday said that the deregulation of the downstream sector would create more jobs and grow the economy.?Maku made the observation in Lagos at a one-day seminar on “Deregulation of Petroleum Sector and the Impact on the Maritime Industry’’, organised by the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN).
“If we do not do this, the Nigerian economy will not grow.”
“It is better that we manage this economy and use the resources appropriately and use the N1.34 trillion to be saved on subsidy to grow the economy.”
?“It is subsidy transfer from a sector that is not working to areas that will create jobs,’’ the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quotes the minster as saying.
He said that government would invest in huge public transportation, the railways and build a standard gauge immediately the subsidy was withdrawn.
Maku said that the government would also build the Mambilla hydro-electric power plant and focus on returning the refineries to functional state.
He said that there were also plans to build new refineries in Lagos, Bayelsa and Kogi to produce about 400,000 barrels of oil daily for exports.
Maku said Nigeria had huge domestic debt of five trillion naira which it was servicing with N500 billion annually.
?He said that the economy could not withstand using one-third of the budget to subsidise petroleum products.
?The minister said salaries of workers has also jumped from N9.49 billion per annum to N1.53 trillion, adding that any patriotic Nigerian should see reasons why government could not run the economy with the “so-called subsidy”.
He said that if deregulation could work effectively in the aviation sector, then it would work in the oil industry.
Chief Emmanuel Ihenacho, a former Minister of Interior, said that beneficiaries of subsidy were the rich and the middle class.
?Ihenacho said removal of subsidy would fetch huge investments for the welfare of the masses.
He said prices of goods would rise once the subsidy was removed, but the benefits to the people would also rise.
Ihenacho said that the deregulation would bring about more efficiency in the maritime industry as goods would no longer be delayed at the ports
“Indigenous ship owners will have more ships and there will be adequate fund to invest in the industry.
The former minister said the question the common man should be asking now “is what would become of the monies accrued as savings when subsidy is removed’’.