Mr Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, says the earnings of the Federal Government from the oil and non-oil industries, coupled
with poor revenue receipts from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), have fallen by 60 percent, placing significant strain on the nation’s economy.
After a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari
at the Abuja State House on Monday, Sylva confirmed this.
In particular, he noted that the revenue provided by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS)
was also drastically reduced as a result of the negative consequences of the country’s COVID-19 pandemic.
After his daily briefing of the president, the minister, who spoke to State House correspondents, admitted that the current socio-economic problems had made
life more difficult for Nigerians, while appealing for more understanding as the government was determined to improve the quality of life of the people
The Minister also assured Nigerians that just as they did with kerosene and diesel, which are more important to ordinary citizens
than petrol, which is mostly used by the elite, Nigerians will get used to the recent deregulation of the PMS pump price.
Trucks that transport food products from one part of the country to another have since been deregulated,
according to him, using diesel, though kerosene has also been used by most of the Nigerian masses.
”The only explanation to everything we have said is that the country just could not afford subsidy anymore. It is unfortunate we are experiencing some of these things now. We will get by, I am sure when things stabilize, our earnings begin to improve, we will begin to see the benefits of what this government has done”, he said.
On the sudden increase in the price of petrol, he said: “Let us first agree, that these are not the best of times not only for Nigeria but for the global community.
“What we have said over and over again as a government is that government is no longer in the business of fixing pump price, that is the meaning of deregulation and stepping back on subsidy.
“Yes, we are very aware that this will result to some increase, but why do we have to do this, because it is clearly impossible for government to continue to subsidize”, the minister further said.
He added: ”I was just discussing with someone today that we just have to make a choice. If government were to continue with subsidy, it means, for example, that at some point we may not even have money, after subsidizing petrol, to pay salaries. You have to choose. It is very clear that today things are not as they were before”
Sylva reiterated that the government’s earnings have reduced by 60 percent, ”our FIRS collection has also reduced because less oil is being produced, there is less activity in the oil industry which is driving the economy. So you find out it is a double whammy from all sides”.