By Daniel Afred
THE Petroleum Equalization Fund (PEF) has announced that machineries are in motion to bring about reduced prices of petroleum products in the riverine areas of the Niger Delta.
According to the Agencyâ€™s spokesman Mr.Goddy Nnadi PEFâ€™s management board has concluded an arrangement with independent oil marketers to bring relief to the people of the region.
After a meeting with the marketers, the board agreed to pay the marketers for the cost of transportation on land of petroleum product to enable them bring down the prices.
â€œ it is expected that this will reflect on the prices they sell because the cost of transportation is removed.
â€œOne of the agreements reached is that they will go back and sensitize all their people, that if they have any claim, it should be brought forward. The management board will make effort to pay all of the acclaims.
Once paid, they should be able to bring down the cost of the product until the riverine movement by barges is determined. The situation is unfair, where the predominantly poor people of the riverine areas of the Niger Delta, where oil is produced have to pay over N100 for a liter of petrol which is sold at N70 in the cities where the rich live.
As a lasting solution the Agency would commission a study to get the Nautical mileage in these areas from the areas of supply, put in place good rates that will adequately take care of the transportation cost, bearing in mind the difficulties that they go through,not having any reason to sell above N70. What the marketers do is that they put the cost of transportation to the cost of sales, so instead of selling for N70, the sell for up to N100 to the rural people who donâ€™t have money.
What the board has however decided is to start implementing paying them specially. Their bills will be checked to clear any outstanding on any riverine marketers as quickly as possible. After that, all bridging and equilisation payment will continue as covered under our bridging, Equilisation and inter-district Schemes. This is to ensure that the marketers reduce the cost for now because it will take a little time before we can implement the whole scheme to enable them sell at N70 per liter.â€ he said.
In a related development the PEF has also set up a six member committee to spell out modalities to facilitate direct collection of its contribution and allowances from stakeholders. Some stakeholders, including oil marketers are statutorily obliged to pay to the fund a certain percentage as contribution to petroleum products bringing in the country.
The committee whose members where drawn from the operations, accounts and administration units is headed by Alhaji Danladi Musa. Alhaji Musa is the manager, North East operation ofÂ PEF(M)B. The Executive Secretary of PEF Mrs Sharon Kasali, gave the committee six weeks to conclude its assignment.
The report is expected to be endorsed by the stakeholders, leading to a final decision. It is expected also that theÂ report will stipulate the ways and means through which PEF can collect its monies directly from major and independent marketers.
With the self collection status in place, it becomes easier and faster to collect directly and pay the marketers faster so that they can recover and bridge more.
At a recent stakeholders meetingÂ in Lagos with the leaders of the major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), PEF had promised quicker service delivery and prompt payment within 30days ofÂ bridging if allowed to collect its money.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has been collecting and remitting money to PEF.
A source at the Agency who pleaded anonymity however said thatÂ Mrs Kasali was worried about the delay in receiving remittance in order to settle markers claims. â€œShe is eager to stop the trend, build confidence and position PEF(M)BÂ to discharge its duties credibly.
This is one of the reasons why the Executive Secretary is fast tracking her reform agenda, including the automation of operations and payment process.â€ She enthused.