NLC, TUC, APC seek further cut in price of petrol

pump• Buhari faults decision

• PPPRA fixes ex-depot price at N77.66k

• Most marketers yet to comply with new rate

GROUPS and individuals from across the country have commended the Federal Government for reducing the pump price of petrol to N87 per litre following the fall in the price of the product at the international market.

  Meanwhile, following the reduction of the pump price to N87, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) has announced N77.66 kobo as the new ex-depot price for petrol.

 The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, Sunday night announced that Federal Government has decided to reduce the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) to N87 per litre effective midnight 18th day of January 2015.

 But some groups have said the cut in price fell short of the expectation of the citizens, calling for further reduction. 

Many filing station in some parts of the country are yet to comply with the new pump price as directed by the Federal Government.

 The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) described the reduction from N97 to N87 per litre as not ‘deep enough’. A statement by the General Secretary of Congress, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson in Abuja yesterday, was quick to laud the government for the action.

  The statement added: “Prior to this price reduction, government had substantially devalued the Naira, thus ensuring that the full benefits of falling crude price are not passed on to Nigerians. The N10 price slash translates to 10.3 per cent reduction compared to 33% price reduction in most countries. For instance, in the United States, the price dipped to under two dollars from three dollars per gallon.”

Congress had earlier urged government to effect a price reduction following a sustained price slump of crude oil in the international market in order for Nigerians to benefit from the development.

   While it commended government for listening to Nigerians on the need to effect downward reduction, Congress observed that the price reduction it envisaged is the one that will operate within the institutional framework of the Petroleum Products Price Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).

 “The logic of our reasoning is hinged on the premise that only the PPPRA is charged with the statutory responsibility of determining petroleum product prices based on a relatively acceptable template.

“Accordingly, it is the PPPRA (on whose board we have NLC, TUC, NUPENG, PENGASSAN, NURTW) relying on the existing price template that could arrive at a fair and just price reduction. In order words, the reduction by the government, as welcome as it is, is by fiat.”

 While lamenting the sidelining of the PPPRA Board, Congress demanded that the board be constituted immediately to enable it discharge its statutory functions. The NLC maintained that beyond the issue of price reduction of PMS, the regulatory agencies in the down stream sector of the oil industry needs to protect Nigerians against monopolistic exploitation.

 Also, the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) commended the Federal Government, noting that the move unreservedly shows the government’s sensitivity to the plight of millions of impecunious Nigerians.

 TUC, however, noted that in as much as it commends the downward review, the decrease is not commensurate with the fall in the price of oil in the international market.

  It said: “The N10 reduction certainly has less than significant effect on costs of transportation, goods and services. The new N87 per litre price is sure to still “destabilize” and bore holes in the ever-shrinking pockets of the Nigerian masses. Nigerians deserve an even greater slash in the price of fuel. All appropriate measures must be taken to strengthen the purchasing power of the common man.”

  The All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Organisation (APCPCO) described the Sunday night sudden slash as far too short of the people’s expectation .  In a statement, Mallam Garba Shehu, Director of Media and Publicity of the APC Presidential Campaign said “the Jonathan-led PDP government is beginning to listen to public outcry about bad governance, extortion and exploitation of the Nigerian masses in the oil sector where billions of naira are daily being ripped off the pockets of the common men and women through inaccurate pump prices of petrol, diesel and kerosene, despite the dwindling world market prices of these products.”

Faulting both the decrease ratio of N97 to N87, APC said: “The oil price decline is 55% and the cut in the pump price is 11%. The argument is that devaluation which is approximately 10% should be factored in. The US has witnessed price cuts in excess of 50% from $4.00 to $2.00 which translates into 50c per litre or N60 per litre including state taxes. How can petrol in the US be 25% cheaper than in Nigeria? It just does not make sense. This is too little. The alternative will be to further reduce petrol prices and overhaul the subsidy system which is a cesspool of fraud, money laundering and imperfect market structures.”

 The Presidential candidate of the party, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari faulted the Federal Government decision to cut the price of fuel. 

Buhari pasted on his facebook page yesterday morning that “Out of desperation, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s government has increased subsidy payments and reduced fuel prices to N87 per litre. Many people think it is a good decision. But it is not.

  “You think you are paying less at the Petrol station, but you cannot experience much economic developments this way. Why? The monies that have been budgeted for education, security, constructions and many more will be diverted to pay for subsidy as it was never planned. Budget – $65 per barrel. Crude – $48 per barrel. We are losing $17 per barrel.

“In recent weeks, India and Indonesia have removed fuel subsidies. Nigeria’s government decides to take on more. Deregulation is the solution, not increased subsidy payments.”

  A group, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) praised President Goodluck Jonathan’s decision to reduce the pump price of petrol in Nigeria but urged the relevant agencies in the Petroleum ministry to embark on massive clamp down on fuel dealers who have so far failed to comply with the government directive. HURIWA challenged the Federal Government to prosecute actively all the indicted petrol subsidy thieves who diverted over N1 trillion from the public treasury so as to retrieve to the last kobo all the stolen public money in the hands of this cabal. The group said the reduction in the pump price of petrol may not make much impact unless corruption in the petroleum sub-sector is fought and crushed and domestic refining of petroleum products resumes fully in Nigeria.

Besides, HURIWA wants Nigeria to review her membership of the Organization of Petroleum Producing Countries [OPEC] following the failure of the cartel to save the unprecedented fall in the asking price of crude oil in the global market which has significantly led to the depreciating national revenue.

 The reduction in price of petrol was also commended by the Nigeria Prosperity Project (NPP), whose President, Mr. Lous Ebodaghe, said would change the face of transportation in the country.

 The Guardian survey showed that most of the filling stations covered within Lagos metropolis were still dispensing to motorists at the old rate of N97 per litre.

  For instance, Safetrip filling station, Rain Oil, KS Oil, Sabolar, Foreliner and Petroleum Managers within Lagos State were still selling at N97 per litre. Only Forte Oil, Stark Petrol and Conoil Oil were dispensing at the new price of N87 when The Guardian visited the stations yesterday. 

  Investigations also showed that a larger percentage of marketers in Lagos, Ogun and Oyo states are yet to change their pump price to the new regime, just as some completely shut their pumps. 

  Motorists have immediately begun to demand for products at the new rate, but some attendants were adamant, claiming that they were still selling old stock. Investigations showed that only a few depots, including those owned by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), were sloading products as at yesterday.

   The price display boards at many filling stations were still showing N97 per litre, while those at the depots were showing the old rate of between N90 and N91 per litre.

  A top official of a fuel marketing firm told The Guardian yesterday that the new price did not surprise them because the decision was long overdue, but marketers were unhappy due to the way and manner it was announced.

Some of the marketers have already imported cargoes with the intent of selling at N97 per liter, but the new price, according to them would have significant impact on their operations.  “It is going to be tough for marketers now, the Federal Government was supposed to have invited the marketers to chart the modalities to reducing the price, but as the situation is now, things will be difficult for marketers,” a source said.

   A statement by the PPPRA in Abuja Monday said the ex-depot adjustment takes immediate effect and thereby warned marketers against engaging in sharp practices.

 The agency also stressed that the announcement of the price reduction by the minister is in consonance with Section 6, Clause 1, of the Nigerian Petroleum Act, necessitated by the prevailing volatility in the international oil market and the drop in crude oil price. In exercising its mandate of determining the pricing policy and setting benchmark prices of petroleum products, the PPPRA thereby announced a new ex-depot price of PMS as N77.66 per litre.

 “In view of the foregoing, oil marketers are hereby advised to adhere strictly to this new price regime, as the PPPRA, in conjunction with the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), shall enforce compliance in order to ensure that consumers benefit fully from this new review. In other words, any violation of the prevailing price regime, shall attract appropriate sanctions.”

  The agency therefore urged Nigerians against any form of panic buying, saying there are enough products in all depots across the country.

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