Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on Saturday allayed fears that pump price of petrol might move up following National Assemblyâ€™s recent passage of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), which levied a five per cent petrol tax.
The NNPC told THISDAY in Abuja that petrol price remains N145 per litre for now, explaining that while it would wait for the implementation of the PIGB to commence, it has focused its attention on ensuring that the Nigeria does not experience the kind of petrol scarcity it had in the last quarter of 2017 and into 2018.
It also stated its intention to see that petrol is sold at N145 per litre in the eastern part of the country, adding that it was only in the region that a litre of petrol is sold above the governmentâ€™s regulated price of N145.
On Tuesday, the two chambers of the National Assembly considered and approved the Conference Committee Report on the PIGB 2018 (SB. 237), which is the new framework to regulate the governance aspects of countryâ€™s petroleum industry.
Apart from unbundling the NNPC into a new national oil company fit for purpose; scrapping the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) to come up with one single regulatory entity known as the Nigerian Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NPRC), the PIGB also imposed a five per cent levy on fuel sold across the country.
According to the PIGB, the five per cent fuel levy on Nigerians will be paid to the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) to finance its operations in the sector.
Its Section 36 (1) (a) stated inter alia: â€œThere shall be established the Petroleum Equalisation Fund into which shall be paid all monies payable to the Equalisation Fund by way of a five per cent fuel levy in respect of all fuel sold and distributed within the federation which shall be charged subject to the approval of the Minister (of Petroleum).â€
But responding to THISDAYâ€™s inquiries on how this could affect the pump price of petrol in the country especially with regards to the NNPC being the sole importer of petrol, NNPCâ€™s Group General Manager, Public Affairs, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, stated that there was no plan by the corporation to review the price of petrol.
â€œFor the time being there is no immediate plan because you have to put many things into consideration,â€ said Ughamadu via a telephone interview.
He further explained: â€œAs far we are concerned, we are not contemplating that decision. They should allow the bill to take off first. Our concern now is how to lower fuel price in the east so that it can be the same with all other parts of the country because NNPC is the only importer now and we donâ€™t know why the prices should be different (there).â€
Ughamadu, stated: â€œThe only thing is that we have assured the nation that as far as this administration and current management (of NNPC) is concerned, we might not experience the type of supply hiccup we had in the last quarter and that will be of paramount importance to consumers.
â€œYou are aware we were in the east two weeks ago to lay serious complaints to the governors that in terms of price disparity, it was only in the east that we still experience it, whereas when you travel to Maiduguri it is sold at N145 per litre. In the east it is still sold for close to N150 per litre despite that depots are closer to the east than Maiduguri.â€