By Ebitonye Akpodigha
Nigerians have been given a hint that they may, in the future, have to brace up for another round of hike in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) commonly called petrol.
This is because the present pump price of N145 per litre, according to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), was no long sustainable, saying that the present price was being subsidized by the government for Nigerians to be able to afford it.
The NNPC said the reason for this is the prevailing exchange rate in the country.
Group General Manager, Crude Oil Marketing Division at the NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari, speaking on Monday at the 2016 Oil Trading and Logistics (OTL) Conference in Lagos, noted that there was no way petrol would continue to be sold at the current pump price considering that and other factors.
He said despite the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) deciding to give oil importers a preferential exchange rate, marketers still find it difficult to make profit at N145 per litre, meaning if they continue with the current price regime, government would have to continue to pay for the losses.
“We have a very difficult business environment. It is impossible today to import products at the current market price, at the current foreign exchange rate. There is no way today you can take the product to retail and sell at N145. It is not possible today.
“If that is true and I believe that it is true because we all go to the market, why can’t we sell above N145? That is where legislation should come in.
“Today, are we in a subsidy regime, absolutely. There is no way you can bring products today and take it and sell at N145 and get back your money, and make a profit. That is not possible,” he said at the occasion.
However, Mr Kyari emphasised that the government would not announce another hike in the pump price because of the timing.
“I also know today that it is impossible for this government to announce tomorrow that petrol is about N150. This government cannot do it. That is the truth. The people will not take that number,” Mr Kyari noted.
He pointed out that at the moment, most oil marketers have stopped importing the products, noting that those who still sell below N145 per litre buy the product locally.
“You can see some marketers saying that fuel is N138. It is because they did not import it. But someone has taken the heat; indeed, we (NNPC) have taken the heat, and you buy from us, so you can afford to go to the market and then put a ridiculous price. It is possible, because they did not import it,” he said.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has promised to review the laws on licensing, regulation and incentives on petroleum refineries in the country.
This, it explained, when put in place, would lessen the bureaucracies and bottlenecks associated with the refining of petroleum products in the country.
Speaking also at the event, Speaker of the House, Mr Yakubu Dogara, who was represented by the Chairman of the House Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Mr Joseph Akinlaja, noted that an amendment bill on the regulation and licensing of refineries had passed second reading in the lower chamber of the National Assembly.
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