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Proposed N5,000 monthly grant for poor Nigerians: Senate counters Finance minister


*Says no provision of monthly transport grant for 40m Nigerians in 2022 budget

*Insists fuel subsidy provided for in next year’s Appropriation bill

Tunde Opalana, Abuja

A day after the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, said that the Federal Government will remove fuel subsidy by mid-2022 and replace it with N5000-a-month transportation grant to about 40 million poor Nigerians, the Senate on Wednesday clarified that there is no such provision in 2022 budget.

The Red Chamber also insisted that there is still provision for subsidy in the 2022 budget submitted by the Executive to the National Assembly.

The Daily Times recalls that Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, on Tuesday, said that there will be N5000 monthly Transportation allowance for 40 million Nigerians to cushion the effect of subsidy removal.

She said: “Ahead of the target date of mid-2022 for the complete elimination of fuel subsidies, we are working with our partners on measures to cushion potential negative impact of the removal of the subsidies on the most vulnerable at the bottom 40% of the population.

“One of such measures would be to institute a monthly transport subsidy in the form of cash transfer of N5, 000 to between 30 – 40 million deserving Nigerians”.

But speaking with newsmen on Wednesday after submission of its Committee budget proposal, Senator Adeola Olamilekan Solomon, who is chairman, Committee on Finance, said that there is no provision for N5000 monthly for 40 million Nigerians for transportation allowance in the 2022 budget currently before the National Assembly.

He stated that before the Executive can embark on such intervention, the proposal must come to the National Assembly because it is going to cost N2.4 trillion.

Adeola asked: What are the criteria that would be used to determine the beneficiaries of the transportation allowance?

He said the proposal is still a rumour to him as the Chairman Committee on Finance.

He said: “I don’t want to go into details, if there is something like that a document needs to come to the National Assembly and how do they want to identify the identity of the beneficiaries, this is not provided for in the 2022 budget proposal which is N2.4 trillion.

“For us, we still believe it is news because this budget we are considering contains subsidy and if we are passing a budget with subsidy in the fiscal document, we can’t speak because that is the document that is currently before us.

“The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning was quoted as saying that 40 million Nigerians will be paid N5000 as transportation allowance, in lieu of the fuel subsidy.

“I don’t want to go into details for now. I believe that if such proposal is to come to pass, a document to that effect must be sent to the National Assembly for us to see how feasible this is and how do we identify the 40 million Nigerians that are going to benefit from this process?

“There are still a lot of issues to be deliberated upon and looked into if eventually this will come to pass and how do we raise this money to pay these 40 million Nigerians because I know that even the revenue being raised and monies that are coming in from this so-called oil and other sources of revenue to the Federal government.

“So, this is not provided for already in the 2022 budget. We don’t have anywhere in the budget where 40 million Nigerians will collect N5000 monthly as transportation allowance totaling N2.4 trillion.

“I know that there must be a budgetary provision for this for us (National Assembly) to consider. That is why I said it is still a news out there until it formally comes to the National Assembly for either a virement to the budget or reordering of the budget. For now, I still want to take it as a rumour and as a news until it is formally presented before the National Assembly.”

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Chuka Francis

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