NIGERIANS UNSURE OF SURE-P

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Last week, the Senate ad-hoc committee investigating the activities and finances of the Subsidy Re-investment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) raised an alarm that N500 billion, accruing to the project, has not been accounted for. The committee, headed by Deputy Senate Leader, Abdul Ningi, stated that a total amount of N834.33 billion accrued to SURE-P between January 2012 and September 2013. 
N834.33 billion is the sum total of receipts from the 25 billion litres of petrol which the partial withdrawal of subsidy yielded within the period. The unaccounted sum is the difference between what the SURE-P committee, headed by Dr. Christopher Kolade, claimed to have received during the period under review. Kolade told the Committee that only N300 billion has been released to SURE-P committee.

Nigeria’s Petroleum Minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke was absent at the meeting, and did not send any representative to clarify the gaps in receipts and disbursements of fuel subsidy savings.   The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, was also absent at the Senate hearing. The continuing failure of the responsible officials to explain the discrepancies in the administration and disbursement of SURE-P funds provoked public outrage, fuelling widespread speculations that the money may be missing. In addition, the disappearance of the SURE-P funds is reminiscent of the unprecedented Multi-trillion Naira fuel subsidy fraud that triggered a nationwide uprising in January 2012 just after the federal government withdrew subsidy on premium motor spirit (PMS).  Till this day, no one has been punished for that malfesance.
Unsurprisingly, the missing SURE-P funds generated heated debates among a broad spectrum of Nigerians. Spaces for Change’s Discussion Forum hosted intense online exchanges and deliberations among young Nigerian professionals around the world, examining the implications of the missing funds on national growth and the economy.  ‘How much exactly has Nigeria saved from partial withdrawal of fuel subsidy since January 2012, and what happened to the money?”
Here are excerpts from the discussion:
Temitope AdeyinkaI think it’s pretty much straightforward to determine how much we’ve spent on PMS subsidy this year going by public statistics from NNPC, Petroleum ministry & PPPRA.

Nigeria currently consumes an average of 39.66 million itres of petrol according to Petroleum Minister.
This is in agreement with the records NNPC submitted to the senate concerning petrol consumption in Nigeria between January 2012 and September 2013 which put total volume of petrol consumed in 21 months at about 25 billion litres (translating to an average daily consumption of 39.68 million litres).

On the pricing template on PPPRA website, monthly landing costs of petrol in Nigeria from January 2013 to date are stated.
http://www.pppra-nigeria.org/pms.html. If we use the figures from the petroleum minister & NNPC with the monthly subsidy calculations from PPPRA, total subsidy on petrol from January 2013 to October 2013 comes to about N624 billion.
Sunkanmi AdesinaWe don’t even know how much oil we produce; how much we sell and how much is being stolen. So, how can we be sure of how much we’re paying for subsidy?  By the way, have we all forgotten that N700b was budgeted at the beginning of 2011, and we ended up paying N2 trillion? 2 years down the line, has anybody been punished? Is it not the same Minister that is still overseeing the Ministry of Petroleum Resources?
Nigerians are actually paying 50% while FG is paying 50%. Without that, FG would have spent N1.9 trillion on subsidy? In 2011, when N2 trillion was spent, FG cried blue murder, and made a strong case that subsidy must be removed because marketers just collected trillions without supply. Now that we are spending N1.9 trillion, who is FG is holding responsible for the reckless, unnecessary spending they diagnosed in 2011? Who is FG holding responsible?
The Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala argued that if money being paid on subsidy is diverted to other sectors, there will be significant improvement in infrastructural developments and other kind of developments. But since they removed 50%, there’s no added advantage for Nigerians, who are now paying more for fuels. And if there’s no visible advantage, it can only mean that the money accrued, now being tagged SURE P, has been re-looted! So why do you want me to care whether it’s oil marketers that commit fraud, or Government cronies in the name of SURE P?
You now see the reason why some of us don’t want to pay more for fuel. There is no accountability of whatever that is gained. The ONLY difference between removal of subsidy and retention of full subsidy is that the MASSES WILL PAY MORE FOR FUEL. That’s all.
  
Wale EdunProper auditing is needed. This figure is staggering.
Emeka NwokeochaThe fraud in the pms subsidy has grown worse than it was years ago. Going by the senate hearing, we would have spent a whooping sum of 2.9 trillion Naira in 12 months if we are buying fuel at 65 Naira a liter. Nothing has changed. So the rape continues.
Samuel Diminas Subsidy payments are usually not in the budget. Even when it is budgeted for, the final amount is usually a large amount above projected amount, or it is simply inappropriate to put the amount in the budget. The cost of subsidy is usually deducted as first line expense before income from crude oil sales are remitted to the Consolidated Revenue Account/Federation Account. So the amount spent on subsidy, would go to the three tiers of government and first line funds if it didn’t exist, in accordance with the Revenue Sharing Formula
The current expenditure is N1.4T after 10 months. That is not in the budget. Fuel Subsidy has never been appropriately budgeted for. What you can get is that in 2014, there would be a budget for the amounts unpaid for from cleared invoices carried over from the past year. I am totally against petrol products consumption subsidy.
As long as Nigeria keeps insisting on petroleum products consumption subsidy where there is incentive for manipulation, where the marketers who sell this same fuel at their filling station are expected to invoice the FG 90 days after the fuel hasbeen burnt up/cosumed in Lagos, Cotonou, Niger, Benin, Lagos, Port Harcourt, the system would remain unmanageable and grow in exponential amounts, burning scarce resources in a most reckless manner.
 To manage the economy efficiently, policies which target systemic and process checks are the appropriate means for achieving goals. Governments have limits to which they can achieve goals: a bad policy is a big delimiting factor in the fight against corruption, and promotes inefficiency and abuse.
Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri: The main issue here is that millions saved from subsidy were not spent on infrastructure as was advocated for. There are concerns that the subsidy savings are also looted just the same way the fuel subsidy is cornered by a few cabals. The difference is that one is official corruption and the other is “cabalistic corruption”. So, what exactly is the difference? If a few cabals steal and corner the fuel subsidies to themselves, the nation comprising 170 million Nigerians are likely to benefit! But in the reverse order, only a few officials “corner” the same subsidy savings and yet, the people excruciatingly pay more for fuel.
It doesn’t make sense to advocate for subsidy savings and reinvestment, and then the same savings end up being misappropriated by the same gatekeepers of the treasury. Many Nigerians would be happy to pay less on fuel, and have the cabal continue with their fuel subsidy windfall. This is purely a devil and the deep blue sea situation where one bitter choice has to be made. All those tempting arguments about reinvesting subsidy savings on infrastructure are no longer convincing. It seems like a terrible case of RELOOTING THE LOOT. This is a very terrible situation.
Nsikan-George Emana:  The SURE-P programme is designed around certain core themes: youth, community and women empowerment; infrastructural development and service provisioning. I was part of the official team that facilitated the YES programme by SURE P in Calabar. I was amazed at the revelations by state MDAs and the youth representatives who constantly reminded SURE P officials that they were not willing to submit to another NYSC-type programme neither were they happy to have their vulnerable situations and joblessness exploited by politicians who played to the gallery with SURE P programme. So much said in public, SURE P has been hijacked by politicians.
I am not sure Nigerians want Federal Govt to continue to pay for fuel subsidy. That line of thought has long been overtaken by events. The string of argument now is that almost two years after Nigerians grudgingly submitted to FGN’s conditions for removing fuel subsidy, very unimpressive and unconvincing results have been delivered by SURE-P with subsidy funds defeating the very reason for that action. Today , it is the same tale of corruption served on a different saucepan – official corruption.

Saya-Braide EbiBesides, we have had many administrations increase fuel price without accounting for the additional fund accruing to government, yet this administration has set up a committee to manage the funds transparently. We just throw in words like corruption to rubbish this very commendable thing.
Nsikan-George Emana I wish to address 2 points from the last post above:
(1) “…..several administrations have increased fuel price without accounting for additional funds” – meaning that the status quo of non-accountability should remain and become a norm in Nigeria? 
(2). “…..manage the funds TRANSPARENTLY and yet….” Can one honestly exonerate SURE-P committee from misapplication or misappropriation of funds? I would not want to put all the blame on Mr President but it is absolutely difficult when he turns a blind eye and deaf ear to what is a known denominator in Nigeria.

What are your thoughts?

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