The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, has advanced reasons why the deregulation of the Petroleum industry was necessary for the nation’s economy.
Sylva made this known while briefing newsmen on the increase in the pump price of premium motor spirit (PMS), also known as petrol.
He said, the Federal Government was no longer in the business of fixing the pump price of petroleum products in the country, but that market forces will determine the price of the products.
“Government is no longer in the business of fixing prices for petroleum products, we have stepped back.
“Our focus now is on protecting the interest of the consumers and making sure that marketers are not profiteering,” he said.
Sylva said it was unfortunate that people were blaming government, noting that the deregulation of the sector was imperative for the economy.
He said that it was also a consensus among stakeholders for such strong policy direction.
According to him, the well-being of Nigeria remains paramount to government.
“You all know that that President Muhammadu Buhari aligns with ordinary Nigerians, especially the poor.
“Left for him, he will never allow increase in pump price; for this to happen, it means that it is an inevitable decision.
“COVID-19 took the price of crude oil to zero zone,” the minister said.
He said that government cannot fund subsidy, hence would not adopt that as an option, noting that current happenings were for the economic survival of the country.
Sylva said that government had cut crude production from two million barrels to 1.412 million barrels per day.
This, he said, was affecting revenue generation in the country.
He said that it was unfortunate that the deregulation of the sector was politicised, urging Nigerians not to listen to any advocacy for subsidy payment.
“Deregulation will definitely come with few pains, but survival of the country is paramount,” he said.
Sylva also said two regulatory bodies in the oil and gas sector will be merged as one regulator in the new Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
The two agencies are Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) and Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).
He said that the two would be merged under the name, ‘The Authority’ as regulator in the industry.
He said that the agencies would still be relevant to serve as regulators in the industry, noting that without PPPRA and PEF, it would be difficult to deal with profiteers.
“PEF and PPPRA will emerge as one under a name ‘The Authority’ and will be helping to police the pump price of petrol so that nobody will profiteer,’’ he said.
While PEF deals with equalisation of petroleum products to ensure price uniformity, PPPRA deals with petroleum products pricing and monitoring of compliance.
It would be recalled that the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) on Wednesday announced a new ex-depot price of N151.56 for petrol.