President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on Monday, made a passionate appeal to the conscience of Nigerians to support the subsidy removal policy, as well as other intervention programmes being initiated by his government.
He seized the national briefing to adduce reasons for the policy in the first instance, revealing that in a little over two months, when his administration came on board, the government had saved over a trillion Naira that would have been squandered on the unproductive fuel subsidy.
Further justifying the claims, Tinubu said the dubious subsidy regime benefitted only smugglers and fraudsters.
“That money will now be used more directly and more beneficially for you and your families,” he vowed.
Commenting on the forex crisis plaguing the country, Tinubu said the government was closely monitoring the effects of the exchange rate and inflation on gasoline prices.
He noted that if and when necessary, there would be some form of interventions.
He admitted that the Nigerian economy was going through a tough patch and the citizens were being hurt by it, stressing that the cost of fuel had gone up with food and other prices following, leading to households and businesses struggling.
“Things seem anxious and uncertain. I understand the hardship you face. I wish there were other ways. But there is not. If there were, I would have taken that route as I came here to help not hurt the people and nation that I love,” he stated.
The President said what he has to offer immediately was to reduce the burden “our current economic situation has imposed on all of us, most especially on businesses, the working class and the most vulnerable among us.”
Reeling out some of his interventions which could pass for palliatives, he said, “Already, the Federal Government is working closely with states and local governments to implement interventions that will cushion the pains of our people across socio-economic brackets.
“Earlier this month, I signed four (4) Executive Orders in keeping with my electoral promise to address unfriendly fiscal policies and multiple taxes that are stifling the business environment. These Executive Orders on suspension and deferred commencement of some taxes will provide the necessary buffers and headroom to businesses in the manufacturing sector to continue to thrive and expand.
“To strengthen the manufacturing sector, increase its capacity to expand and create good paying jobs, we are going to spend N75 billion between July 2023 and March 2024. Our objective is to fund 75 enterprises with great potential to kick-start a sustainable economic growth, accelerate structural transformation and improve productivity.
“Each of the 75 manufacturing enterprises will be able to access N1 Billion credit at 9% per annum with a maximum of 60 months repayment for long term loans and 12 months for working capital.
“Our administration recognises the importance of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and the informal sector as drivers of growth. We are going to energise this very important sector with N125 billion,” Tinubu stated.
He went further to explain that “out of the sum, we will spend N50 billion on Conditional Grant to 1 million nano businesses between now and March 2024, where the target is to give N50,000 each to 1,300 nano business owners in each of the 774 local governments across the country.”
He said he was optimistic that ultimately, the programme would further drive financial inclusion by onboarding beneficiaries into the formal banking system, insisting that in like manner, they will fund 100,000 MSMEs and start-ups with N75 billion.
Under this scheme, each enterprise promoter will be able to get between N500,000 to N1million at 9% interest per annum and a repayment period of 36 months, he said.