‘There Is Nothing Like Subsidy, Obasanjo Created It To Cheat Govt’ – Ex-minister

A former minister of Finance, Chief Anthony Ani, has faulted the petroleum subsidy scheme, describing it as a ruse, calling on government to instead “get the nation’s refineries right.”

Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Guardian, Ani said, “there is nothing like subsidy in Nigeria. Obasanjo did that to assist people to cheat this nation. We had a situation where one person was given the sole right to import diesel, yet we could have produced the diesel.”

He said: “What is happening is that the template Obasanjo brought in for petroleum products was importation-based. I, and Aminu Saleh and Buhari drafted the Petroleum Trust Fund (PFT) law and it was based on production. Let us go back to production. When you produce, you have by-products and those by-products are even more expensive than your barrel of oil. Therefore, if you do the production costing properly, you will find out that the cost of production of your litre of oil is much less than what we are importing.

“Therefore, let us go back to the issue of changing the template to that of production. What we are doing now is that the driver in this country is subsidising what is produced in petro-chemicals and fertilisers because all the by-products go there, and they are going there at zero cost. Whereas, if you do it properly, you will find out that what is going into petro-chemicals, the costing is even more expensive than a barrel of oil. So, let’s get our acts right.”

The former finance minister also faulted the recent call by former Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, for an increase in Value Added Tax (VAT), adding that “government will collapse in no time,” if the suggestion is followed.

“I am sure and I hope President Buhari would not do this,” said former KPMG Chairman and former Minister of Finance under the Sani Abacha government, Etubom Anthony Ani.

“We don’t need to increase VAT because all we need do is send people to the local governments to collect it. At the moment, consumers pay VAT. You have to consume. And individuals are the ones who consume, not goats or trees. These individuals stay in various local governments of Nigeria. Let the VAT collector go to the local governments. The VAT is waiting for him to be collected. I estimate that we will be having about N3tr annually, if the VAT man goes to the local government. We don’t need to increase VAT; let us collect what has not been collected,” said Ani, who is also a former President of the Chartered Institute of Accountants.

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