ByÂ Tony Edike
ENUGUâ€”DIRECTOR-General, Enugu Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ECCIMA), Mr.Â Emeka Okereke, has tasked the Federal Government to revitaliseÂ the dilapidated refineries in the country before commencing the deregulation of the downstream sector.
Okereke told reporters in Enugu yesterday that it would do the country more good to commence repair of the refineries in order to ensure availability of products before the deregulation.
He suggested that government should refurbish the facilities in the refineries and hand them over to private sector to manage to avoid vandalism.
He argued that commencing deregulation now, without functional refineries, would not only hike prices of products but also create scarcity and monopoly.
â€œGovernment should systematically manage deregulation of the downstream sector because of the sensitive nature of petroleum in our economy. Once you touch petroleum, you have touched the soul of the economy.
â€œThere are cartels who are interested in the lingering problems of petroleum in the country to enrich their pockets. There is need to stop them and change the system positively. Until our refineries begin to function, government should not be in a hurry to deregulate,” Okereke said.
â€œDeregulation is a good idea but it is premature to be done. We believe in free market economy where demand determines supply,â€ he said.