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Nigeria hikes petrol prices as COVID-19 bites budget

Nigeria hikes petrol prices as COVID-19 bites budget

Image from Africanews

Petrol prices have risen in Nigeria after the oil-rich nation dumped a controversial petrol subsidy system in the face of a coronavirus budget crunch.

The cost of fuel at the pump has risen by around 15% in recent days, hitting a record high of 162 naira per litre ($0.42), after the government pushed on with deregulation.

"In a virtue of one month the fuel price was increased twice, it’s sad and disheartening, honestly it’s not encouraging," said Julius Apeh, military personnel.

"It is we the poor masses that are suffering, they don't feel anything about it, theirs is to remain in their house and they will supply them."

People in Africa's most populous country, where almost half of the 200 million population live in extreme poverty, have for years relied on the artificially inexpensive fuel.

Nigeria is Africa's biggest crude producer but has almost no working refinery capacity and the authorities have spent tens of billions of dollars to subsidise imports.

But the government says it cannot afford to subsidise petrol any more as the coronavirus pandemic batters the economy.

Nigeria said it would end to the subsidies earlier this year, as falling oil prices robbed Nigeria of a major chunk of its revenues.

Increasing the pain for average Nigerians, the government has also almost doubled the cost of electricity from 33 to more than 60 naira per kilowatt.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday defended the increases, saying they were "crucial decisions" because of dwindling revenues.

"There is no provision for fuel subsidy in the revised 2020 budget, simply because we are not able to afford it, if reasonable provisions must be made for health, education and other social services," he said in a statement.

"We now simply have no choice".

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