Even though the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, on Friday in Abuja said petrol price remains N145 per litre, indications emerged weekend that government may be pressured to consider tax holidays for fuel importers and marketers to bridge rising landing costs.
Currently landing cost of fuel stands at N171 and marketers have insisted that they cannot land at N171 to sell at N145.
Calculations show that importers can only continue to be in business if global oil price go down to about $45 to $55 which cannot be possible now.
Kachikwu had at a news conference, said President Muhammadu Buhari’s stand on the issue was clear, hence, the ministry was working hard to resolve future occurrence of fuel shortages.
According to him, the essence of the ongoing meetings with stakeholders, which began few days ago, is to find mechanisms to ensure that fuel queues do not come back.
The Minister noted however that “There are social media commentaries implying that when we met with the committee set up by the Senate President to review the causative factors of the fuel scarcity and find solutions, there was a statement credited to me that the price might be increased to N180.
“No such statement was made; no such plan is intended. I needed to clarify this because sometimes some of these rumour mongering add to the difficulties NNPC had in terms of being able to control price speculation.
“The president mandate on this issue is very specific: we are not increasing price from N145,’’ Kachikwu said.
He said issues being looked at include a “wetting’’ of all stations so that product is available at every time for Nigerians and how to deal with the problem of private marketers that pulled out from participation.
“This is so that they can participate effectively in the supply of petroleum products in the country, all within the parameters of N145 per litre pump price.
“I thought we should make this very clear. This is not a matter for speculation; anybody who does speculation on it is not being helpful to Nigerians.
“They have already gone through a very difficult Christmas period. We are working night and day to try and find solutions. It is not a political issue; people should step out of that goal post.
“We want to provide succour to Nigerians, we want to provide product at N145, that is the presidential mandate; that is the Federal Executive Council mandate; nobody is having a deliberation on that.
“We are actually looking at steps for those who have breached these processes, what we can do to penalise them and also set very stiff penalties for those who go to sell above N145.
“Going forward, after the recommendations, there will be very massive enforcement; very firm position on this issue; very firm tracking of product in this country.
“Nobody deserves this sort of up and down in terms of product supply in this country.
“I want to make that very clear, there is no discussed intended price increase issue; price is N145 per litre at the pump price; it remains that; nothing has changed; there is no mandate to increase that,’’ he stressed.
On the issue of another insinuation that marketers were free to fix petrol prices, he said “there was no authorisation to modulate outside the N135 – N145 bracket”.
“This is not a multiple price-fixing environment where people can work outside the umbrella of what has been fixed. What we have approved was a modulation between N135 and N145 per litre.
“Nobody is free to set price above that,’’ he said.
Responding to the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) template that helps monitor importation into the country, Kachikwu said “the template has always been an issue.
“This is because as prices change in the international market, some of these templates become questionable.
“As part of this committee’s work, we are also reviewing that template to see whether there are things we need to do to help us ensure that we can accommodate sales at the N145 per litre window.
“That is also going to be looked at. PPPRA is working on that and it is heading a special committee on it’’.
Checks in some parts of the federation especially in South East and South South, fuel still sells above pump price of N145 and hovers between N220 and N290.
In parts of South West, where fuel sells for N145, the queue is endless.