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…Kachikwu faults move
By Uche Usim and Adewale Sanyaolu
Two weeks after it denied similar moves, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) yesterday, said there are no plans to increase the pump price of petrol from N145 to N150 because the corporation is not empowered statutorily to tinker with the pricing template of petroleum products.
The NNPC added further that there was no time its management met the President to push for a hike in the pump price of petrol to N150 per litre. NNPC had, last week, increased its petrol pump price at its retail outlets from N141 per litre to N145 per litre.
In a swift defence of the increase, the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs, Mr. Garba Deen Muhammed, stated that the price adjustment in its downstream facilities from N141 to N145 per litre is still within the price band of N135 and N145 per litre approved on May 11, 2016 by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), the statutory body in charge of petroleum products pricing.
The corporation, however, assured marketers and motorists of its readiness to continue to play its statutory role of being the supplier of last resort and ensuring energy security for the nation while also confirming the availability of over 1.6 billion litres of PMS in-country that would cater for 45 days consumption.
But the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu,who faulted the recent N4 increase in the pump price of petrol at all the NNPC fuel stations nationwide, said this after receiving an award at an event organised by the PPPRA in Abuja on Sunday.
“First, I am not aware that the NNPC has increased price. I need to look into that. It is a bit of a surprise for me because there are processes for doing this. If they have done that, it means they are doing it wrongly. Let me find out what the facts are,” he stated.
“Having said that, the reality is that what we did at the point where we did some liberalisation was to enable the free market float the price. Obviously, as you look at foreign exchange differentiations, it would impact. The worst thing you could do is to go back to an era where we basically were fixing prices.
“What we ought to be doing is watching the prices; making sure they are not taking advantage of the common man; making sure that the template is respected. One of the things I think we had hoped to do, which we should still do, before we embark on any price increase is to work on those templates,” the Minister said.