The Ministry of Petroleum Resources yesterday denied plans to hike the price of the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol, contrary to earlier media reports.
A statement issued by the Director of Press in the ministry, Mr. Idang Alibi, said the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, did not insinuate during his presentations at the Joint Senate and House of Representatives Committee hearing on fuel scarcity that the pump price of petrol would be raised.
The statement said the Presidency had set up a special committee to identify the immediate and remote causes of fuel scarcity with a view to finding immediate and long lasting solutions to the challenge.
“The Committee has been in rounds of deliberations in the past few days and these discussions are still ongoing,” the statement said.
“The final decisions and recommendations from the Committee would be passed on to the President and Commander-In-Chief for approval.
”The general public and indeed stakeholders in the oil and aas sector are by this statement urged to disregard any such report of a price increase.
“Further information and communiqué on the resolutions would be communicated as and when due.”
Also addressing reporters in Abuja yesterday on media reports that the Federal Government might raise the pump price of fuel to N180 per litre, Kachikwu said that no such decision was intended.
He, there is a presidential and Federal Executive Council mandate to provide petrol at N145 per litre.
His said: “It is not a political issue; people should step out of that goal post. We want to provide succour to Nigerians, we want to provide product at N145. That is the presidential mandate. That is the Federal Executive Council mandate. Nobody is having a deliberation on that.”
The minister admitted that the petrol price template that the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) uses at the moment has become questionable as a result of the changes in prices in the international market.
Kachikwu noted that there are two lines over the template, which are the actual landing cost of the product and other ancillary charges that pertain to logistics and profit margins for the operators.
The committee that has been set up to address the fuel crisis issue, according to him, has it as part of its terms of reference to review the template with a view to accommodating the sale of the PMS within N145 per litre band.
He said: “There is the actual cost of landing the product on the template and there are other ancillary charges, dealing logistics, profit margins for the operators and all that, which are the below the line elements. “As part of this committee’s work, we are also reviewing that template to see whether there are things we need to do, all to help us ensure that we can accommodate sales at the N145 per litre window. That is also going to be looked at. PPPRA is working on that and it is heading a special committee on it.”
Asked whether the marketers were at liberty to fix their own prices, Kachikwu said there is no provision for a multiple price-fixing environment, where people can work outside the umbrella of what has been fixed.
According to him, some marketers were selling at N143 per litre while others sold at N145 per litre yesterday. But some erring marketers, he said, sold the product above the pump price, and must face the law.
He insisted that “what we have approved was a modulation between N135 per litre and N145 per litre. I am aware that some stations, even as of this morning, sold at N143. The majority sold at N145. Some recalcitrant individuals sold above that, and that is why the law needs to go after them.
“There is no authorization to modulate outside the N135 – N145 bracket. Nobody is free to set price above that.”
Continuing, he said: “I have reacted to this. I think it is very important to make this go universally clear. We are actually looking at steps for those who have breached these processes, what we can do to penalise them and also set very stiff penalties for those who go to sell above N145.”
Our correspondent who monitored the sale of petrol in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) yesterday reports that motorists and other consumers were not moved by reports that fuel price might increase to N180 per litre.
At the time of filing this story, there were no panic buying in the city, which was also devoid of the long queues and black marketers that had become the feature of the city since the fuel crisis began.