[TR News] Senate bows to pressure, withdraws N5 fuel levy bill

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After serious opposition from members, the controversial National Road Fund Bill has been withdrawn from the Senate.

In sourcing for revenue for the proposed national road fund, the Senate committee on works, led by Senator Kabiru Gaya, had last week, in a report, recommended a levy of N5 chargeable per litre on any volume of petrol and diesel products imported into Nigeria and on non-locally refined petroleum products.

It had also proposed that toll fees not exceeding 10 per cent of any revenue be paid as user charge per vehicle on any designated federal road. The payment will not be applicable to roads under the Public Private Partnership arrangement.

The panel had equally proposed that there should be an “inter-state mass transit user charge of 0.5 per cent deductible from fares paid by passengers to commercial mass transit operators on inter-state roads.’’

But when the Bill was presented to the Senate for consideration yesterday, many Senators condemned the proposed levy, urging the Senate to immediately throw away the idea because of its harsh economic implications.

Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio and Kabiru Marafa, led the offensive against the withdrawal of the bill.

Attempting to defend the bill earlier, Gaya condemned what he called negative report against the bill.

Meanwhile, the upper chamber has raised the alarm over the continuous operation of fuel subsidy regime. It said contrary to claims by the Federal Government, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is still operating subsidy regime in the country.

Chairman, Senate committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), Senator Marafa, on the floor of the Senate yesterday, said NNPC was still making secret payments.
Marafa claimed that the situation has crippled the downstream sector of the petroleum industry, where NNPC has become the sole importer of products.

The lawmaker revealed that his committee was currently investigating the illegal payment of subsidy by NNPC.

The Senate yesterday passed a Bill scrapping the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) and replaced it with Federal Roads Authority (FRA).

The bill, sponsored by Senator Kabiru Gaya (Kano-APC), was read for the third time at plenary before it was passed through a unanimous vote by the senators.

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