Marketers Back NNPC’s Removal Of Fuel Subsidy - THE NATION
Fuel marketers and other stakeholders in the petroleum sector have endorsed the decision of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to remove subsidy on petrol also known as Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).
They said that the measure, which was long overdue, would free more resources for the federal government and boost the national economy in the long run.
In separate interviews with journalists yesterday in Lagos and Abuja, the marketers and stakeholders, stated that the crash in the price of crude oil in the international market had provided the NNPC the opportunity to stop subsidising petrol.
While featuring on an Africa Independent Television (AIT) morning programme on Monday, NNPC group managing director (GMD), Mr Mele Kyari, had declared that the era of fuel subsidy had gone forever in Nigeria.
Kyari said: “There would be no resort to either fuel subsidy or under-recovery of any nature. NNPC will play in the petroleum marketplace, just like another marketer in the space.
“But, we will be there for the country to sustain the security of supply at market price,” he stated.
In a reaction yesterday, the president of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Mr Chinedu Okoronkwo, said that the removal of fuel subsidy would allow more investors to come into the sector.
Okoronkwo said: “This is what we have been asking the government to do because there is really no need for government to be subsidising fuel annually with huge amount of money.
“These funds could have been channelled into providing critical infrastructure and healthcare for Nigerians which we are now seeing due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
“With the removal of subsidy, more modular refineries will come up. We already have Dangote Refinery in Lagos which will soon start operations. Also, the Waltersmith Modular Refinery in Ibigwe, Imo State, is almost near completion. This means we won’t need to be refining our crude oil outside the country.
“The government should let the market forces determine the price, going forward and allow the private sector to be involved in the process,” he told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
In the same vein, an oil and gas expert, Mr Wilson Opuwei, said that while the removal of fuel subsidy was good, it should, however, not be a knee-jerk reaction by the government.
Opuwei, who is the chief executive officer of Dateline Energy Services Ltd, said that there should be a timeline and also eligibility criteria to determine those who would participate in the process.
“Once they are able to do all of that and understand the overall gain for the country, that is when we will know we are going somewhere,” he said.
The expert, expressed optimism that the removal of the subsidy would be sustained even if crude oil price increases at the international market in the coming months.
In her comment, the programme coordinator of the Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC), Ms Tengi George-Ikoli, said that the group in its 2019 benchmark report had decried the spending of N750 billion on fuel subsidy in 2019.
George-Ikoli said that the NNPC was a player in the sector, noting that the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources were yet to make pronouncements on the removal.
She said: “We need the regulators to inform us on what the new policy is. The NNPC GMD only spoke in an interview but we need to hear from the regulators and that is what we are waiting for.
“Right now, there is no under-recovery, which is to be expected because the prices are low right due to what is happening in the world.
“What is happening to the over-recovery due to the crash and where are the funds going. We need to know these things but there is no clarity at the moment.”
George-Ikoli said that the government needed to explain to Nigerians how it arrived at the reductions it made to the pump price of fuel which is now N123.50 per litre.
“Given the COVID-19 situation, Nigeria does not even have enough funds to continue to subsidise fuel but we need more information,” she added.
FG’s Fuel Subsidy Is Fraud – PDP
Meanwhile, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has alleged that the fuel subsidy regime under the President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) administration was a fraud and an unpardonable scam against the country.
The party, therefore, asked officials of the APC-led government to stop lying to Nigerians and tell the truth on how trillions of naira, they claimed to have been paid as subsidy, was allegedly cornered by APC leaders and members of the cabal in the presidency.
The PDP urged the National Assembly to expose all those involved as well as take steps to recover the over N14 trillion stolen by the cabal and some APC leaders and channel same to the welfare of Nigerians.
It made the appeal in a statement issued yesterday by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan.
While describing Monday’s declaration by Kyari, that there will be no more subsidy and under-recovery as dramatic, Ologbondiyan said: “Our party notes that if the federal government is running away from its subsidy policy, the substantive minister of Petroleum Resources, President Buhari or his minister of state, Timi Sylva, should muster the courage to announce this to Nigerians through a policy statement.
“Our party holds that this sudden announcement of an end to fuel subsidy and commencement of a deregulation regime of the oil sector is a desperate step by the Buhari administration to stave off an investigation into the siphoning of trillions of naira by APC leaders using phony subsidy claims.
“The PDP invites Nigerians to note how President Buhari set the stage for unprecedented subsidy looting under his regime,” the PDP said.