The Federal Government has insisted that it has not removed subsidies on the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), otherwise known as petrol, maintaining that the hike in the cost of the commodity, currently between N175/litre and N230/litre, was done by oil marketers.
Despite the fact that the cost of commodity was still being regulated, oil marketers across the country recently raised the price of petrol above the approved N165/litre rate without any official approval by the government.
The marketers had argued that the N165/litre approved price was not sustainable and was contributory to the scarcity of petrol in many locations nationwide, they eventually hiked the pump price of petrol and had maintained the price increase for several weeks running without any resistance by the government.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) stakeholders’ consultation forum on regulations, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, insisted that the government had not raised the price of petrol, above the regulated cost of N165/litre.
Commenting on the disparity in the pump prices of petrol and why the government had not waded into the matter, the Minister had this to say:
“Well, I can tell you authoritatively that we have not deregulated. The government is still Subsidizing, if there are increases in the price it is not from the government, it is probably from the marketers.
“But, of course, I will talk to the NMDPRA’s chief executive to ensure that they actually regulate the prices. This isn’t from the government, we’ve not deregulated. However, a lot is going on to ensure that the queues end. As of yesterday, I noticed that the queues in Abuja are easing off.”
Probed further by journalists to explain why no action had been taken against the marketers and why there had been no monitoring exercise to enforce the government approved price, Sylva replied, “Well, I don’t know about monitoring exercise.
“But I know that the authority is fully on their job and the queues will be dissipated very soon.”
On the essence of the forum, the Chief Executive, NMDPRA, Farouk Ahmed, said the programme was in accordance with the demands of the Petroleum Industry Act to allow stakeholders participate in the making of regulations which impact on them.
He said, “Section 216 of the PIA mandates the authority to ‘consult with stakeholders prior to finalising any regulations or amendments to regulations’.
“However, we do not consider this an obligation or box-ticking exercise as continuous engagement with our stakeholders to enable their business is at the core of our regulatory philosophy.”