Fuel marketers kick as FG rules out price hike

Oil marketers, on Tuesday, advised President Bola Tinubu to gradually relax the removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, following the inability of importers to access the United States dollars and the impact which this was having on businesses.

This came as Tinubu ruled out fuel price hike and reversal of fuel subsidy.

However, marketers of petroleum products encouraged the President to learn from Kenya, stressing that the African country had to return subsidy on petrol to curb the devastating impact which its removal had on Kenyans.

“Let them not do the needful, they will see the consequences. We learned this morning that Kenya, which equally removed subsidy and noticed that its effect was so hard on the citizens, has again resumed the subsidy regime for the period of two months,” the Secretary, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Abuja-Suleja, Mohammed Shuaibu, told our correspondent.

He added, “Government is about the people and it must have a listening ear. For Nigeria, how can we be an oil producing nation with four refineries and all of them are down. We now depend on imports.

“When he (Tinubu) announced that thing (subsidy removal), we said it was going to bring problems. Are we not feeling the consequences of that announcement now? It is forex that largely determines the cost of petroleum products here.

“Marketers are not willing to import products again,  So if the government is going to relax the removal of subsidy for a while, it should better do that as a matter of urgency.”

Shuaibu argued that despite the fact that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited announced earlier on Tuesday that it had no intention of increasing petrol price, the cost of the commodity would rise above its current N617/litre in weeks, if the exchange rate continues to increase.

“Relaxing subsidy removal is going to be a very wise decision right now, because going by the price of the dollar, the cost of petrol is bound to rise. In fact, some oil marketers are ready to join the labour union to protest,” he added.

Some dealers had said subsidy on petrol would gradually creep in, should the NNPCL continue to sell at N617/litre, particularly if the rise in forex rate persists.

The National Public Relations Officer, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chief Chinedu Ukadike, said the outright removal of subsidy would cause severe hardship.

“I’ve been saying this even before subsidy on petrol was removed. How can you stop subsidy without anything on ground as palliatives?

“Trips that used to be N5,000 in the past and now over N15,000. Businesses are shutting down. The suffering is rising. The government has to intervene now,” he stated.

The IPMAN PRO had earlier explained that the price of imported commodities, including petrol, would continue to rise as far as the rate of exchange of the dollar increases.

“Once there is a slack in the naira against the dollar, there is going to be an effect. The demand and supply of forex is a key factor. We should also understand that it is not only petroleum products that use forex.

NEITI reacts

This came as the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative advised the government to initiate and implement a deliberate policy that would attract investors to invest and help in fixing Nigeria’s refineries.

In its latest policy advisory for the oil sector, NEITI advised the Federal Government to come up with a deliberate policy to encourage private investments in refineries.

“A deliberate policy initiative should be implemented with full Presidential backing to encourage Nigerians and foreign investors already awarded licences to establish private refineries in Nigeria.

“The incentives may include tax holidays, institutional support, and availing potential investors in the downstream sector of the available opportunities within the existing ‘Federal Government ease of doing business policy.’

Also calling for intervention, the Executive Secretary, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Clement Isong, earlier stated that it was high time the government intervened.

“Well, the President himself said in his speech that if they find petrol prices moving too high, they would intervene. We don’t want prices to move too high, nobody wants that.

“So if the dollar continues to climb, we are expecting some sort of intervention from the government based on what the President said,” the MOMAN official stated.

Similarly, the National President, Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association of Nigeria, Benneth Korie, told journalists that one of the best options before President Tinubu currently, was to hasten the repair of Nigeria’s refineries.

Tinubu reacts

Amidst the hike in cost of living brought about by the removal on Premium Motor Spirit popularly known has petrol which has led to a corresponding increase in fuel prices, the Presidency on Tuesday said Nigeria is currently the only country in West Africa enjoying the cheapest and most affordable price of PMS.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, told State House correspondents that daily consumption of fuel has dropped from 67M litres to 46M litres following the removal of subsidy.

Ngelale, who noted that he spoke to the President on Tuesday morning, noted that the President urged stakeholders in the country to hold their peace while adding that the threats of an indefinite strike by the organized labour was premature.

He said, “The President wishes first to state that it is incumbent upon all stakeholders in the country to hold their peace. We have heard very recently from the organised labour movement in the country with respect to their most recent threat.

“We believe that the threat was premature and that there is a need on all sides to ensure that fact finding and diligence is done on what the current state of the downstream and midstream petroleum industry is before any threats or conclusions are arrived at or issued.Secondly, Mr. President, wishes to assure Nigerians following the announcement by the NNPC limited just yesterday that there will be no increase in the pump price of petroleum motor spirit anywhere in the country. We repeat, the president affirms that there will be no increase in the pump price of petroleum motor spirit.”

Speaking further, Ajuri noted that the market having been deregulated would no longer allow a single entity to dominate the market.

“The market has been deregulated. It has been liberalized and we are moving forward in that direction without looking back.

“The President also wishes to affirm that there are presently inefficiencies within the midstream and downstream petroleum sub sectors that once very swiftly addressed and cleaned up will ensure that we can maintain prices where they are without having to resort to a reversal of this administration’s deregulation policy in the petroleum industry.”

Ngelale also noted that Tinubu approved that the chart containing prices of PMS in other countries be transmitted to Nigerians so as to show the cost of PMS in West African countries.

He added, “Senegal at pump price today of N1,273 equivalent per liter, Guinea at N1,075 per liter, Côte d’ Ivore at N1,048 per litre equivalent in their currency, Mali N1,113 per litre, Central African Republic N1,414 per litre, Nigeria is presently averaging between N568 and N630 per litre.

“We are presently the cheapest, most affordable purchasing state in the West African sub-region by some distance. There is no country that is below N700 per liter.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, in a post around 11.48pm on Monday on its official X (formerly Twitter) said it had no intention to increase the pump price of petrol.

(Punch)

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