CSOs Demand Sustainable Deregulation of Downstream Petroleum Sector

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Charles Ajunwa

The Nigeria Natural Resource Charter, (NNRC), a consortium of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has asked the federal government to entrench the deregulation drive of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry by enacting appropriate legislation or embedding it as part of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) expected to be submitted to the National Assembly soon.

The consortium also demanded that the government commences moves to repeal the laws establishing the Petroleum Equalisation Fund and the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) to signal its commitment to the full deregulation of the sub-sector.

The consortium, which took the positions at the end of a one-day webinar held recently, also asked the relevant authorities, especially the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to ensure a level-playing field for all importers of Premium Motor Spirit and not place the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) at an advantage over others. The CSOs also called on the NNPC to “take urgent practical steps to reverse the fortunes of the loss-making refineries as revealed in its published 2018 Audited Reports of its Subsidiaries,” noting that “the refineries remain cost centres that the Nigerian government can ill afford given the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and other fiscal pressures on its economy.

Apart from calling on Nigerian government to create an enabling environment for the private sector to contribute to the efficient running of the refineries so that Nigerian can reach its domestic refining goals, the group further called on the President and the Minister of Petroleum Resources to “demonstrate his honest commitment to the deregulation efforts by expunging the laws that entrench the potential of returning to a subsidy regime and pre-deregulation state,” adding that: “the government repeal the PPPRA Act, the PEF(M)B Act and the Price Control Act specifically, section 6(1) of the Petroleum Act, Schedule 1 of the Price Control Act, all acts that ensure a potential of returning to a price fixing regime and demonstrate to the Nigerian people that the ‘declaration of full deregulation’ is merely a statement of intent and not yet honored.”