If the industrial action threatened by PENGASSAN and NUPENG goes ahead, the economy will lose up to N150 billion daily, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has warned.
The National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers Senior Staff Association of Nigeria should embark on a nationwide strike had vowed to go on a strike if the Federal Government fails to immediately settle the arrears the of N800 billion subsidy owed oil marketers.
In a statement by Mr. Muda Yusuf, its Director-General, the LCCI noted that the fuel subsidy phenomenon had become a recurring distraction in Nigeria’s economic management space.
“The economy would suffer an estimated N150 billion loss daily if the strike goes ahead.”
For an economy that is just emerging from recession, this is not a good scenario to contemplate, Yusuf said, adding that everything possible should be done to avert the planned strike.
“It could cause a total shutdown of the economy. It would paralyse the chain of logistics in the economy as economic activities are driven largely by road transportation, both for commuting and freight.
“It would impact revenue as the upstream sector would be affected as well. It would impact the power sector, which is largely powered by gas. Many manufacturing firms and other businesses depend on petroleum products as sources of energy and thus the consequences for all the players in the economy would be very grave.
“It is one of the biggest burdens on the finances of government and a major impediment to the progress of the Nigerian economy. It is regrettable that the government has over the years got itself entangled in a problem, which should not have arisen in the first place,” Yusuf stated.
The LCCI blamed the Federal Government for the threat by the unions, which according to it, arises from its encouragement of fuel subsidy and control of the petroleum downstream sector.
“We have consistently argued that the government should completely decouple itself from the business of importation, refining, transportation and retailing of petroleum products.
“This arrangement has created considerable distortions and stagnated private investment in the downstream sector. These are enterprises that the private sector is best suited to manage.
“Government has no business fixing prices and subsidising the players. This model has failed several times over. If anything, it has created a major platform for bleeding the economy.
“The government should therefore engage the unions and propose a credible payment plan to settle the arrears," the LCCI boss said.
PIX: Mr Muda Yusuf, Director-General Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI)