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Nigerians will get used to fuel price hikes & inflation – Minister

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Junior petroleum minister Timipre Sylva says Nigerians will adjust to the new realities of a deregulated pricing regime for petrol, just like they did with kerosene and diesel which “are more important to the ordinary citizens.”

Mr. Sylva spoke with reporters at the State House shortly after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday. He said the government could no longer cope with subsidising a commodity “that is mostly used by the elites.”

”The only explanation to everything we have said is that the country just could not afford subsidy anymore,” Mr. Sylva told reporters. “We will get by, I am sure when things stabilise, our earnings begin to improve, we will begin to see the benefits of what this government has done.”

Since the latest increment on the pump price of petrol, costs of basic commodities have cut deeply into the pocket of everyday Nigerians. On Monday, the statistics office reported October inflation worsened to 14.23 percent from 13.71 percent the previous month.

The rates reverberated through the food markets as costs of basic commodities such as bread, cereals, meat, fish, fruits, potatoes, yam and vegetables were sold at prohibitive prices.

Mr. Sylva said the worsening economic conditions are not peculiar to Nigeria.

“Let us first agree, that these are not the best of times not only for Nigeria but for the global community.

“What we have said over and over again as a government is that the government is no longer in the business of fixing pump price, that is the meaning of deregulation and stepping back on subsidy.

“Yes, we are very aware that this will result in some increase, but why do we have to do this, because it is clearly impossible for the government to continue to subsidise”, the minister said.

He added that collection has also reduced because less oil is being produced, there is less activity in the oil industry which is driving the economy. So you find out it is a double whammy from all sides.

As the government continues to make average Nigerians see reasons to adapt to shrinking purchasing power, it is not immediately clear if the authorities are committed to cutting governance costs significantly to make room for extra resources to cater for disadvantaged citizens.

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