Chris Steven, Abuja
Following the recent increment of the pump price of the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) from N141 per to N145 per litre, the Federal Government has said it would undertake a review of the pricing template for the commodity to forestall a further increase in the price of the commodity.
The slight adjustment in the pump price by NNPC retail stations in many parts of the country also prompted Independent Marketers of the commodity to adjust their pump price per litre upward to between N143 and N144 per litre.
But the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, who disclosed this during a grand award ceremony organized by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency,(PPPRA) Branch of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, (PENGASSAN), in Abuja said that the review of the template, which would be done with oil marketers and other stakeholders, would help cushion the effect of rising foreign exchange rates and the dwindling value of the naira against major international currencies on the price of petrol.
He also stated that he is not aware of the fact that the retail arm of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC), has increased the price of petrol from N141 per litre to N145 per litre, the maximum price allowed by government under the price modulation mechanism, adding that he would consult with the NNPC management to understand the reason for the increase.
“I am not aware that the NNPC has increased price. I need to look into that, it is a bit of surprise for me, because there are processes in doing this, if they have done that, it means they are doing it wrongly. Let me find out what the facts are,” he noted.
Commenting on the petrol price template, Kachikwu explained that the review would eliminate certain charges that are attributable to the Federal Government and some of its agencies, so that the price can be retained where it is at the moment.
“One of the things I think we had hoped to do, which we would still do, before we embark on any price increase is to work on those templates. There are still areas that are within the government controlled aspects; payments to the Ministry of Transport and the rest; payments to the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA.
“We are working on the possibility of being able to shift that out so that we can still modulate the prices within where it is right now. But I would hold a conversation with the industry and see how it is going.
“At the end of the day, I think PPPRA is the one that has the authority to say it is time the templates does justify some level of movement, otherwise you have a crisis of individual decisions on pricing.” He said
He further explained that the meeting brokered between President Muhammadu Buhari and leaders of the Niger Delta was part of a series of actions to bring lasting peace to the Niger Delta region, while he lamented that the crisis recorded in the region over the last one year had taken its toll on the country, its resources and even the sustenance of the oil industry.
“The President is committed to finding solutions to these problems; but he is committed to finding lasting solutions, not one-offs that would come to haunt us again afterwards. That is why he is taking his time to understand how these people operate.” The Minister said
Also speaking, Acting Executive Secretary of the PPPRA, Mrs. Sotonye Iyoyo, said while they celebrated the last 13 years of the PPPRA, they were aware that the challenges before it in attaining full and total deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector are daunting.
“But we believe that with the continued support and cooperation and advice of all our stakeholders and the generality of Nigerians, our task would be made easier,” she explained.
She said the Appropriate Pricing Framework Policy put in place by Kachikwu in May 2016 had helped in achieving key deregulation preconditions such as full cost recovery, free entry and free exits of players and global competitive products pricing through import/export parity policy.
Mrs. Iyoyo further stated that the policy had brought about limited government intervention and control on supply and distribution and had helped create an enabling environment to attract private sector capital.
Speaking in the same vein, PPPRA Branch Chairman of PENGASSAN, Comrade Victor Ononokpono, said the PPPRA would continue to play a major role in the Nigeria petroleum industry, stating that the agency was responsible for the massive development and expansion recorded in the downstream petroleum sector.
According to him, the PPPRA is responsible for the unprecedented investment drive which resulted in the proliferation of storage facilities, depots, jetties, retail outlets and the availability of petroleum products nationwide.