New bill won’t lead to fuel price increase, says Saraki

• CNPP vows to resist fuel tax, backs Labour, students

• Senate plans to debate motion on high interest rates
The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has stated that the proposed National Road Fund Bill would not lead to any increase in the current pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as petrol.

In a statement issued by his media office in Ilorin at the weekend, Saraki said the report of the committee, which worked on the bill, made different suggestioncriss 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.

“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 said.

He said that the levy to be so imposed on fuel importers would not affect the pump price of fuel.Also, Saraki has stated that the Senate would this week discuss a motion and take a decision on the interest rates being charged by commercial banks on loans to customers.

He noted that the prevailing rates were too high and discouraging to genuine industrialists and entrepreneurs who need borrowed funds to stay afloat and contribute to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“It is difficult for manufacturers to survive while borrowing at about 28 per cent,” he said.Meanwhile, the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) yesterday condemned any plan to increase prices of petroleum products.
The condemnation followed the proposed National Road Fund Establishment Bill, which is part of the 11 economic reform bills initiated by the Senate and already endorsed by the House of Representatives.

The CNPP in a statement by its Secretary-General, Chief Willy Ezugwu, yesterday, accused the National Assembly of taking more anti-people decisions than resolutions that could better the lives of the already impoverished masses of Nigeria.

The body, therefore, pledged to support moves by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) against the hike and assured the Senate and the Federal Government that the proposed N5 per litre of fuel tax would be resisted.

In another development, Saraki has stated that occasional skirmishes between the executive and legislative arms of government in Nigeria are healthy for the growth of the nation’s democracy.

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