the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Olusola Obadimu, welcomed the idea of palliatives for the poor, but he questioned how the N500bn for the palliative measures would be spent.
According to him, the chamber will refrain from making further comments on the matter until clarification is given on how the fund would be utilised.
He said, “The idea, in principle, is good. Of course, people expect some relief. It is in the statement that we issued. We said it clearly that palliatives would be a good idea. We argued for it. But talking about a specific figure is something we can’t do when we don’t know the scope. The concept is fine, but we need more information about the scope.”
On his part, the Deputy-President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Gabriel Idahosa, while commending the move, said the fund would be insufficient to cushion the impact of the subsidy removal and the devaluation of the Naira.
He further stated that the media and other interest groups must sustain the advocacy to ensure that the palliative measures are extended to the public and private sectors.
Idahosa said, “Whatever the president implements will not be sufficient to wipe out the impact of the two policies — subsidy removal and floating of the currency. So, it is going to be a partial effort to reduce, not eliminate the effect of those policies.”
“There is a basis to complain if the details come out and only the public sector gets to benefit from it, then everybody in the private sector has a reason to complain. We have to wait and see how the first set of palliatives will be designed, then we can complain legitimately if the private sector is not involved.”
The President of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, Mr. Laoye Jaiyeola, said his group supported the palliative measure but stressed that it should be extended to those who really needed it.
He stated, “The clarity is that all of us are saying we must have palliative for the people affected. So if you are asking for palliative and the president cannot spend one Naira without approval; so, where can he get it if he doesn’t borrow it?”
‘’Everyone said there must be palliative for the subsidy removal and the palliative means that government must address the shock of the people. You know you cannot spend without approval and you also know that we are in deficit before; so, which other way can he get money if not borrow? So, he is following what the procedure says is legal.”
“We support palliatives but it should go to the ultimate consumer and not those who sit in one place and are spending money. Identify the people that were affected the most and give them the palliative.”
In a related development, the President on Wednesday assured Nigerians that the framework for palliatives to remedy the effects of fuel subsidy removal is being worked out, explaining that the decision to phase out the subsidy was taken in the best interest of the country.
He said the decision would guarantee future prosperity.