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Why Senate’s directive to NNPC to end scarcity in few days may not work

Chances of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), to end the lingering scarcity of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) within seven days in the face of rising crude oil price may not work after all.

This is based on the fact that in so far majority of petroleum products consumed in Nigeria remain imported, it may not so easy to wish away the financial impacts of the rising oil prices which determines cost of imports by major marketers who actually saturate the country with products.

According to industry experts, the NNPC cannot independently saturate the country with products without major contribution from major marketers who are complaining that landing costs have shut up due to rise in crude price.

However, the marketers had given government a soft landing that if implemented can lead to pump price normalcy.

Marketers have asked the government to give them some levels of tax holiday in the business of fuel imports so as to cushion the effects of the crude price rise.

They said to cut off the rise in landing cost and encourage them to continue imports and sale on current pump price, one of the taxes they pay need to be rested while they grapple with risen landing coat of about N171.

Findings by our correspondent showed that the federal government may not consider the marketers’ option as it has maintained silence of the idea since it was presented by the major marketers’.

It would be recalled that the Senate’s 7-day directive to NNPC was part of the resolutions made by the upper chamber of the National Assembly at the plenary on Thursday last week.

The resolution followed the adoption of a report by the Senate and House of Representatives’ Joint Committee on Petroleum Resources following a closed-door meeting between the committee and the NNPC leadership on Wednesday.

Chairman of Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), Senator Kabiru Marafa, who briefed senators on the outcome of the meeting, said, “We met them yesterday (Wednesday) and we engaged them on three key issues. One, to brief the committee, and by extension the Senate, on why the queues are back. Two, to tell us the challenges. And three, to tell us what needs to be done to clear the queues in the country.

“On the reasons the queues are back, they told us that it was a combination of the supply gap, coupled with massive smuggling across our borders, which is quite alarming. Even day before yesterday, I saw on national television where Customs officials intercepted more than 3,000 jerry cans of fuel in addition to the quantities being smuggled across the borders.”

Continuing, the Zamfara lawmaker added that “On their challenges, they still talked about this problem of smuggling and failure by marketers to sell at the approved pump price (N145). They told us that every litre of fuel in the country today is brought in by the NNPC and that the corporation still sells at the controlled price till today; therefore, anybody selling above the pump price is doing so at his own risk.

As recommended by the committee, the lawmakers resolved to “direct the NNPC to ensure the adequate supply of PMS and disappearance of queues nationwide within seven days.”