Mixed reactions have continued to trail the recent increment announced by the Federal Government in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, otherwise known as petrol.
The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) had on Tuesday’s evening announced a new pump price for petrol, saying that in a new pricing template which it reviewed, filling stations in the country are now to sell at a maximum of N145 per litre.
The new pump price is N58.50 different from the previous price of N86.50. PPPRA indicated that the sector was still under the government’s price modulation policy and not deregulated.
However, while some segment of the public lauded the deregulation process in the oil sector, others see it as another burden on the Nigerian masses.
The Director General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Muda Yusuf said the decision by the federal government to liberalise the petroleum downstream sector is inevitable given the acute resource constraint that the country is faced with at this time.
He said the overregulation of the sector and the subsidy regime had put enormous pressure on government finances and on the nation’s foreign reserves. He noted that it was evident that the policy was not sustainable and the review is in the long term interest of the economy and the people.
But in statement issued by the Nigerian Labour Congress General Secretary, Dr Peter Ozo-Eson, in Abuja on Wednesday, the NLC described the increase as insensitive. “The unilateral increase in prices of petroleum products today by government represents the height of insensitivity and impunity and shall be resisted by the NLC and its civil society allies.”
The NLC in the statement said with the unjustifiable electricity tariff and other economic challenges brought on by the devaluation of the naira and inflation, the least one had expected was another policy measure that would make life miserable for the ordinary Nigerian.
It also said an emergency NEC meeting has been scheduled for Friday, May 13, to decide on the next line of action, calling on affiliates, state councils and civil society allies of the Congress to commence mobilisation immediately.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Petroleum, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu, has defended the new price regime, saying that it was the only way out of the exorbitant prices of N150 to N250 Nigerians were subjected to at many filling stations across the country.
“We expect that this new policy will lead to improved supply and competition and eventually drive down pump prices, as we have experienced with diesel. In addition, this will also lead to increased product availability and encourage investments in refineries and other parts of the downstream sector.