By Udeme Clement
The Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) has declared that the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which has been in the Senate since 2008, was designed to simplify business operations in the downstream sector and not to create monopoly for government in the system.
The executive secretary of MOMAN, Mr. Femi Olawore, said this in Lagos, stressing that the endorsement of the bill by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was a welcome development. “The reservation expressed by the International Oil Companies (IOCs) doing business in Nigeria , that the proposed bill is capable of creating monopoly in the system is erroneous”, he stated.
He added: “We are concerned about the development of the downstream sector and the economy as a whole. That is why we are urging the National Assembly to pass the bill. The bill is very vital because when passed into law, it would pave the way for more revenue generation for government.
It would also fast track development of the oil and gas sector of Nigeria ’s economy at large. The IOCs have nothing to worry about because the legislation would create a level playing field for foreign and local investors to operate.”
On what government must do to turn the sector around for greater productivity, he said, “Government needs to deregulate the downstream sector and encourage people to invest in refineries. Once this is done, all problems associated with scarcity would disappear one after another. Initial difficulty may arise, but it would only have a very short life span and within two to three years the challenge would be over”.
Responding to the demands of the organised labour that government should put basic infrastructures before deregulation, he said, “The demands of labour are legitimate. However, government could provide infrastructure and still deregulate at the same time. I believe that if government deregulates, the revenue derived from deregulation could be channelled into improvement of the infrastructure that labour wants.’’
For how long shall we mistrust government? The reality is that government does not have money to continue paying fuel subsidy.
The huge amount government is using to pay subsidy should be channelled into other sectors of the economy. I believe labour is an important arm of the society that should hold government accountable to its promises.