Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari fully supports the deregulation of petroleum prices in the country.
Sylva argued that the president did not need to make any formal announcement to that effect since he has lieutenants who speak on his behalf.
Speaking with Premium Times, the minister explained that the federal government was losing trillions of naira to the payment of subsidies before the bold decision to liberalise the market.
He noted that any marketer who engages in profiteering when prices eventually go up because of market dynamics will have much explanation to make.
“I don’t know why Nigerians always say the president must say something. But, I can tell you the president is fully for deregulation and removal of fuel subsidy.
“Let’s face it. Deregulation was really hurting the economy. One buys a product for so much and sell it a loss at a pump price, because of subsidy.
“Again, before you even buy the product, there is another loss, because the foreign exchange used in paying for it is subsidised.
“In the end, the government was losing trillions of naira. If one policy saves about N1 trillion for the country, then we should all be happy” he stated.
Sylva maintained that when prices were reviewed downwards, there was no significant shift in the market, adding that instead, it was moving in the opposite direction.
“So, if prices increase tomorrow and the market is moving up, then it will show it is contrived by some people. Why didn’t the price move down when the prices were reduced?
“The latest deregulation policy has brought a lot to the fore. We are waiting for people who will say anything when the price of fuel begins to go up tomorrow” he said.
While insisting that the new policy will not be rolled back, he emphasised that the government has no reason to go back on it because, according to him, it is good for Nigerians.
“It is only Nigerians that don’t mean well for Nigeria that will come out to say something against deregulation. The options the government is giving to the people will ensure that even if prices go up, the pain will be mitigated,” Sylva said.
He also stressed that the government was carrying out a lot of ‘backend’ activities for the marginal field bid process, adding that there will be a lot of analysis involved to make the programme transparent.
“For instance, the guidelines say the ownership of the bidding companies must be pan-Nigerian. If the guidelines say this, it presupposes that at the back end somebody is going to check for the beneficial ownership at some point.
“Maybe, it was not included on what is published, but I can assure you it is part of the process of the approved guidelines. Nigerians will know the beneficial owners of the bidding companies,” Sylva stated.