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Nigeria to distribute grains, raise salaries to soften impact of rising petrol prices

Nigeria plans to distribute cereals and fertilizer beginning Monday, as well as enhance government employee salaries, in an effort to mitigate the impact of the termination of a petrol subsidy, which has exacerbated Africa’s largest economy’s cost of living crisis.

The central bank would provide grain and fertilizer, the vice president’s office said in a statement, adding that state governors had supported the idea. It did not go into depth on the measures.

The Senate last week accepted President Bola Tinubu’s proposal to borrow $800 million from the World Bank to assist manage rising fuel prices after the government ended a popular but costly petrol subsidy in May.

On Tuesday, Nigerian petrol prices reached a record high of 617 naira ($0.78) per liter. For decades, the subsidy kept prices low, but it got increasingly expensive, costing the government $10 billion last year.

In the short term, the government aims to deploy natural gas-powered mass transportation and set up Autogas conversion facilities across the country, as well as electric buses and vehicles with charging infrastructure.

Tinubu is launching Nigeria’s most significant reforms in decades to address concerns such as the country’s massive debt burden.

Labour unions have criticized the government for removing the fuel subsidy without taking steps to reduce growing prices. In June, inflation, which has been in double digits since 2016, increased to 22.79%.

In June, Nigeria’s leading labor organizations and the government set an eight-week deadline to reach an agreement on raising the minimum wage for government workers.

Due to insufficient refining capacity and mismanagement of existing refineries, Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, imports nearly all of its refined fuel.

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