The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Timipre Sylva, on Monday, reasoned that Nigerians will get used to the deregulation of the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) popularly known as petrol, just as they adjusted to similar actions with diesel and kerosene.
Speaking with State House correspondents after a routine visit to President Muhammadu Buhari at Aso Villa in Abuja, he stated that petrol is mostly used by the elites while diesel and kerosene are more important to ordinary citizens.
The Minister explained that trucks that move food products from one part of the country to another use diesel and most of the Nigerian masses use kerosene, which has since been deregulated.
His words, “Look at it, a situation where diesel has been deregulated long ago, a situation where kerosene has been deregulated long ago, and these are the fuels the poorest people in Nigeria interact with more. Why do I say that?
“If you want to transport food from the north to the south, it will be by trucks that are run by diesel, not with petrol. Those trucks that transport food from the north to the south are usually run by diesel.
“Kerosene is the preferred fuel at the lowest level of our society. These have been deregulated long ago. So, what is the problem with deregulating petrol, which is mostly used by the elite?
“Let us be fair to this country, let us be fair to the poor people in this country. If we have deregulated what they were using, then there is actually no reason why we should continue to subsidise petrol. I feel so. That’s my personal feeling.”
Arbiterz recalls that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had in March approved a monthly review of petroleum products prices in line with the international market prices following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, a few days ago increased the depot price of petrol to N155.17 from N147.67 per litre. This immediately prompted IPMAN to advise its members to dispense the product from N168 to N170 per litre.
Sylva went on to state that the latest increase in the pump price of petrol was informed by the announcement by an American pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, of its recent breakthrough in the discovery of a vaccine against COVID-19.
While pointing out that petrol pump price is directly determined by the price of crude oil in the global market, he said, “What happened recently was because of the announcement of a vaccine for COVID-19 by Pfizer. With that, crude oil prices went up a little bit.
“If you have been following crude oil prices, you would have seen that crude oil prices went up a little bit as a result of this announcement. So, when crude oil prices go up a little bit, then you will see that (it will) instantly reflect on the price of petrol, which is a derivative of crude oil.”
The Minister stated that it was not the first time the government would give the same explanation whenever there is a change in the pump price of petrol in the country, adding that the government took the decision to deregulate the sector in order to ensure its optimum performance.
“When the price of crude oil goes up, then it means that the price of the fixed stock has gone higher; it will also affect the price of the refined product and that is why you see that product prices are usually not static, it depends on the price of crude oil which goes up and down.
“That is why we say, deregulate so that as the price goes up or down, you begin to go up and down as well as the pump. Before now, we fixed it – which was not optimal for us as a country,” he said.