BY VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG
LAGOS — PETROLEUM and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria PENGASSAN, weekend in Lagos, said the Federal Government billions of Naira subsidy claims for petroleum products in the last two years could not stand the test of external scrutiny, as only the government had been running the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, alone without the input of stakeholders.
This came as the association accused the government of lacking the desired seriousness in getting the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, passed as the National Assembly was foot-dragging in the passage of the Bill.
At a briefing ahead of the 4th Triennial Delegates Conference taking place between Tuesday and Wednesday in Abuja, President of PENGASSAN, Mr. Babatunde Ogun, lamented that “despite the high expectation and euphoria that greeted the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) at its inception as a reform that can improve the oil and gas sector has started waning as a result of the undue delay in its passage by the National Assembly.
“Our association has been vociferous on the petroleum sector reforms through our participations and representations at different stages and fora. There are grey areas noted in this bill by various stakeholders and we have advised government to harmonise these issues to quicken its passage.
“NUPENG and PENGASSAN have gone a step further to engage the OPTS (Oil Producers Trade Sector), and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as representative of government to address those controversial issues as it relates to costs, profits, royalties, taxes and fiscal investment among others.
”PENGASSAN has worked with Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, to adopt a common position on identified industry and labour issues in the bill, which was presented to the Senate and the House of Representatives.”
“Despite all these efforts on the part of the unions, it seems the executive arm of government is not exhibiting any seriousness in getting the bill passed, as the National Assembly is foot dragging in the passage of the bill.”
According to him, “PENGASSAN plays key role in the downstream sector of oil and gas operation, and policy issues. Our inputs to policy formulation have been of help in the management of emerging and difficult challenges in the sector.
“The association supported downstream liberalisation to foster private investments, participation and competition in petroleum products refining, storage, marketing and distribution.
“We noted that a lot of work is required to stimulate private sector participation, encourage investment through the promotion of fair and healthy competition. In all these, the consuming public and businesses need protection against the severity and vagaries of market forces and exploitation of consumers through overpricing.”