By Dipo Olowookere
Senate President, Mr Bukola Saraki, has assured Nigerians that the new National Road Fund Bill will not result into any hike in the price of petrol in the country as being feared.
Mr Saraki said Nigerians misinterpreted what the bill aims to achieve.
The Senate Committee had recommended in its report last week the payment of N5 as tax by motorists for the National Road Fund. This is to be used to maintain roads in the country.
But Nigerians vented their anger on the lawmakers, describing them as insensitive to suffering in the land.
At the moment, Nigerians pay N145 for a litre of fuel.
When the present administration came into power in 2015, it increased the pump price to N145 per litre from N87 per litre it met it.
Speaking with reporters in Ilorin on Saturday after the breaking of fast, Mr Saraki also said the report of the Senate Committee, which worked on the National Road Funds Bill, came from deliberations during a public hearing in which all stakeholders made different suggestions on how to generate funds for maintenance of the nation’s road network but that there was a consensus on the desirability of the Fund and the need to ensure that the money to be generated from sale of fuel for the fund should be accommodated within the current price regime.
“This is an opportunity to clarify the inaccurate reporting. There is a Bill called the National Road Funds Bill. Our roads around the country are not adequately funded. If we are banking on the appropriations process, we will not be able to adequately fund and refurbish our roads.”
“Anybody that read the full report would have known that after the public hearing, which involved stakeholders from the road and transport industry, it was recommended that N5 from each litre of petrol should be channelled towards our roads.
“However, this is not going to be additional N5, but it is from the present price of N145 that Nigerians are currently paying at the pump,” the Senate President said.
“The recommendations came from the engagement with stakeholders at the public hearing on the bill. One of the conditions attached to the new charges by all stakeholders was that this five naira should not be an increase, but come from what already exists. It is believed that the existing charges in the present price regime would be reduced to accommodate the five naira Road Fund bill.
“Nigerians should be reassured that although we have not even debated these recommendations, the committee’s report came with a clear proviso that the five naira should come from a restructuring of the existing template, which is reshuffling the taxes in the current N145 — so that five naira out of this will always be pushed to develop existing roads and build new ones,” he added.
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