Subsidy Removal: National Social Protection Forum Calls for Provision of Effective Mass Transit System
By: Our Correspondent
The National Social Protection Forum (NSPF) has called on the Federal Government to commence the immediate provision of an effective mass transit system and alternative transport means (rail and air) for commuting people and farm produce from one location to another in rural and urban areas to cushion the effects of the subsidy removal.
This was contained in a statement signed by the National Coordinator of the Coalition, Dr. Taiwo Benson, and made available to the media in Kaduna on 6th June, 2023.
The coalition also called for a review of the national minimum wage to maintain purchasing power and to ensure that a sizeable proportion of disposable income is accessible to Nigerians.
Dr. Benson added that there must be a move to implement measures in the short term to end the National Cash Transfer (NCT) program to cushion the impact of the subsidy removal on the poor.
The coalition stressed the need for the government to convene a national dialogue with various stakeholders to brainstorm on how to resuscitate existing refineries and create conditions for robust private sector investment in building new ones to increase competition and reduce costs.
“Move quickly to ensure that adequate and effective power supply is provided to enhance the productivity of small and medium-scale businesses (SMSBs) (i.e., informal sector), which happens to be the largest employer of labor in the country.
“Operationalize the National Health Authority Law (NHAL) to reduce out-of-pocket health expenditure that has been identified as a key driver of poverty and vulnerability, particularly for those already near the poverty line and below,” he said.
Dr. Benson explained that the National Social Protection Forum (NSPF) is a coalition of Civil Society Organizations and Partners in Nigeria, with a membership of over 140 organizations.
According to him, the forum advocates for the expansion of social protection in all the states and the FCT with support from development partners. Its membership also includes various media outlets.
He noted that while the coalition acknowledges the economic rationale advanced for the removal of the subsidy, they are concerned about the impact that this removal will have on the masses, especially the extremely poor and vulnerable who now constitute over 133 million of the over 200 million population (NBS 2022).
“The forum emphatically notes that the government should not have embarked on the hasty removal of the fuel subsidy without undertaking widespread consultation with relevant stakeholders, not putting in place the necessary safety nets or palliative measures that would cushion the poor from the impact of this change and further the plunging of more Nigerians into extreme poverty.”
“We note with dissatisfaction the manner and approach that was taken in removing the subsidy.
The National Social Protection Forum (NSPF) is a coalition of Civil Society Organizations and Partners in Nigeria, with a membership of over 140 organizations. The forum advocates for the expansion of social protection in all the states and the FCT with support from development partners. Its membership also includes various media outlets.”