By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
THE Federal Government Monday said it has taken a back seat in the issue of petrol pricing in the country.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige stated this at the Old Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa Abuja while inaugurating the bipartite plus technical committee on Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, pricing framework.
A statement from Ngige’s media office, quoted the minister as saying that the government did not fix the new PMS price that took off in the country on Monday.
He explained that the new N162.44k fuel price was gotten from the commercials like demurrage, transshipment and storage.
“Make no mistake about it. Government has taken the backseat. Government did not fix the price that took off from today. It was a price reduction gotten from the commercials like demurrage, transshipment and storage. This Committee is expected to do more to enthrone transparency in the area,” Ngige said.
Ngige described the technical Committee as a consequential fallout of the outcome of bipartite meetings between the Federal Government and organised labour, represented by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), to fashion out a mechanism and framework to monitor and stabilise PMS pump price.
He recalled that at the last bipartite meeting held on December 7, 2020, the meeting among others, agreed to lower the PMS pump price by N5, with effect from today, Monday, December 14, 2020.
According to the minister, the price reduction was aimed at bringing relief to the Nigerian people and consumers.
He said, “This resulted in a downward review of the price from N168,000 per litre to N162.44k per litre.
“We also agreed that we shall inaugurate a committee just like we did in the power sector where we set up a committee on electricity tariff to look at the rate of electricity.”
Ngige said the terms of reference of the committee include to continue to review the cost of supply and incidental commercial costs of PMS and arrive at the basis of determining market reflective pump price, cap, under the template of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA Act.
He said the Committee was to engage all relevant stakeholders, to establish a price review framework, as well as carry out any other assignment that would facilitate the work of the committee.
The Minister further said that the technical Committee was expected to submit its report by Monday, January 25, 2021 in the first instance, for the main Committee to study, just like they are also expecting that the electricity tariff committee to do so on the same date.
He said, “I am happy that all the stakeholders in the petroleum sector including the downstream sector, are happy with this move. We also want to thank the petroleum pump retailers, the Independent Marketers (IPMAN) and all others who are stakeholders in this industry for their cooperation.”
Ngige added that with such a high calibre committee, the question of whether petroleum pricing has been deregulated or not, would not be subjected to any coloured interpretation.
The technical committee on PMS pricing is headed by Onochie Azubuike Anyaoku, a former Executive Director Refineries Operations and Petrol Pricing in NNPC as Chairman with Mr. Lawan Musa as Secretary/member.
The membership of the technical committee includes the NLC Deputy President, Comrade Najim Esim, the President of NUPENG, Comrade William Akpore and Dr Nasirudeen Usman who is a technical adviser jointly nominated by the NLC and TUC.
Other members are the President of PENGASSON, Comrade Festus Osifo, the Deputy President of TUC, Chief Hyginus Chika Onuegbu and NNPC representative, Umaru Hajia who is the Chief Finance Officer and who will act as the alternate Chairman.
The remaining members are Alhaji Saidu Abdullahi from PPPRA, Malam Ahmed Boboye from the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF), a representative of Minister of Finance, Budget and Planning, the representative of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mrs. Chinedu Dike who is the Special Technical Adviser (STA) to the Honourable Minister and Malam Ahmed Zakaria from the Presidency who is the as Special Assistant, Infrastructure to the President.
In an acceptance speech, Anyaoku described the membership of the committee as broad, noting that every stakeholder was represented. He said the inclusive nature of the committee would make data gathering easy for them to made adequate recommendation on how prices could be modulated in a way not to penalise consumers for inefficiencies in the system.
“I hope our contributions will help lighten the load of the parties involved in making this heavy weight decision for the country.”
In a goodwill message, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Eta Enang, assured the Ministry of Labour and Employment of the support of the Niger Delta region in its efforts to address the fuel price to soften the burden of Nigerian workers.