The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has warned the federal government against implementing the recommendations of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the removal of subsidy on petroleum product.
President of the Labour Congress, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, who spoke in Abuja, insisted that if the country can refine what it consumes locally, the issue of subsidy will not arise.
Wabba also said that the continued devaluation of the Nigerian currency has created the impression of the existence of subsidy, adding that as long as the value of naira is left to market forces, the issue of subsidy will continue in the country, adding that efforts should be made by government to upgrade the nation’s refineries.
He disclosed that as President of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), he recently led organised labour across the world to a meeting with the IMF and the World Bank and told them point blank that their one stop recommendation on subsidy removal and other sundry policy recommendation to the third world are not working and will not work.
He said: “let me tell our country and our government that certainly they should be wary of IMF and their advices. I saw that many media houses are trying to amplify that the IMF has recommended that subsidy should be removed. In the first instance, is there subsidy? This is a question we have not been able to answer. “I want to collaborate what President Buhari said years back that subsidy is actually corruption and that whoever is subsidizing is aiding corruption and we stand by that position. In fact, that has remained a consistent position of the NLC. We can kill that issue of subsidy if we refine our products locally for our domestic use.
“Refineries can be upgraded from one capacity to another. The four refineries we have, if serviced and upgraded, can service our population and the entire West Africa sub region. But because it pays more for corrupt tendencies to thrive, we prefer importation than refining our product for domestic use. Whereas we celebrate countries like Venezuela that have stood their ground to say no; the policies must work for the people and not for the capitalist, our own case is a sorry one.
“You own crude oil, you pay for it to be extracted from the ground, you pay for it to be taken outside to be refined, you pay for tax to where you took it to and you also pay to bring it back to your country for consumption. If we are not able to refine for local consumption, there will be no end because the devaulation of our currency will continue except we are able to address some fundamental issues associated with that. This is an issue that we should be able to address once and for all.”