Hell Let Loose as Fuel ‘Subsidy’ Goes

At last, Nigeria has removed one huge source of corruption: subsidy on petrol. But it has left ordinary people at the mercy of hangmen known as fuel importers. The official price for a liter of petrol has been fixed at N145, and importers have to source their foreign exchange from the black market. It’s obvious the naira’s value will decline rapidly. Even the pump price is likely to exceed N145 per liter. Prices of goods and services, which are already high, are likely to hit the roof. Hell has literally been transformed to Nigeria.

The paradox of an oil-rich nation that imports the by-products of the same commodity has been made clearer. Perhaps, if petrol price had been deregulated eight years ago, inflation would have found its level then. But Nigeria has taken this step without fixing its refineries or ensuring that private refineries work. It has taken the step after allowing thieves to drain its resources and at a time most Nigerians are penniless.

Below is the government’s statement today May 11, 2016:


We have just finished a meeting of various stakeholders presided over by His Excellency, the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The meeting had in attendance the Leadership of the Senate, House of Representatives, Governors’ Forum, and Labour Unions (NLC, TUC, NUPENG, and PENGASSAN).
The meeting reviewed:
1. The current fuel scarcity and supply difficulties in the country.
2. The exorbitant prices being paid by Nigerians for the product. These prices range on the average from N150 to N250 per litre currently.
3. The meeting also noted that the main reason for the current problem is the inability of importers of petroleum products to source foreign exchange at the official rate due to the massive decline of foreign exchange earnings of the federal government. As a result, private marketers have been unable to meet their approximate 50% portion of total national supply of PMS.
Following a detailed presentation by the Honorable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, it has now become obvious that the only option and course of action now open to the government is to take the following decisions:
1. In order to increase and stabilise the supply of the product, any Nigerian entity — repeat: any Nigerian entity — is now free to import the product, subject to existing quality specifications and other guidelines issued by Regulatory Agencies.
2. All Oil Marketers will be allowed to import PMS on the basis of FOREX procured from secondary sources and accordingly PPPRA template will reflect this in the pricing of the product.
Pursuant to this, PPPRA has informed me that it will be announcing a new price band effective today, 11th May, 2016 and that the new price for PMS will not be above N145 per litre.
We expect that this new policy will lead to improved supply and competition and eventually drive down pump prices, as we have experienced with diesel. In addition, this will also lead to increased product availability and encourage investments in refineries and other parts of the downstream sector. It will also prevent diversion of petroleum products and set a stable environment for the downstream sector in Nigeria.
We share the pains of Nigerians but, as we have constantly said, the inherited difficulties of the past and the challenges of the current times imply that we must take difficult decisions on these sorts of critical national issues. Along with this decision, the federal government has in the 2016 budget made an unprecedented social protection provision to cushion the current challenges.
We believe, in the long term, that improved supply and competition will drive down prices.
The DPR and PPPRA have been mandated to ensure strict regulatory compliance including dealing decisively with anyone involved in hoarding petroleum products.
Thank you.

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