FG rejects hike in fuel price

• Buhari in closed-door meeting with Kachikwu, Baru

From Juliana Tawo-Obalonye, Abuja

The Federal Government has said it will not increase the pump price of petrol despite the demand by former General Managing Directors (GMDs) of the National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) who said the current price of N145 per litter was ‘no longer in line with the current economic realities’.
President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, met behind closed-doors with the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources,  Ibe Kachikwu  and Managing Director of the National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Kacalla Baru at the Presidential Villa to review the call for the fuel price increase made by the former NNPC GMDs.
The former GMDs reached the decision at a one-day meeting called by Baru, where they argued that the current price of N145 per litre is not in line with the liberalisation policy, especially, with the foreign exchange rate and other price determining components such as crude cost and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) charges, among others, remaining uncapped.
Those present at the weekend meeting where possible fuel hike was discussed include, representative of immediate past GMD, Kachikwu‎, Senior Technical Assistant, Engr. Johnson Awoyomi, HRM (Dr.) Edmund Daukoru, Chief Odoliyi Lolomar, Dr. Thomas M. A. John, Engr. Lawrence Amu, Dr. Jackson Gaius-Obaseki, Engr. Funsho Kupolokun, Dr. Abubakar Lawal Yar’Adua and Dr. Joseph Thlama Dawha.
Oil marketers had on August 8 hinted that due to the continued scarcity of foreign exchange to finance the importation of PMS, the price may increase from the official price of N145.
But Baru, who was appointed NNPC’s GDM on July 5, had denied that there were plans to increase fuel price.
The Federal Government liberalised the downstream sector of the petroleum industry on May 11, 2016, and announced an increase in the pump prices of petrol from N86 and N86.5 per litre to between N135 and N145 per litre.
It had also stated that the market was to be driven by the factors of demand and supply, as it was now largely in the hands of private sector players.
Baru, after meeting with President Buhari, yesterday, refused to take questions from State House correspondents who wanted to know if another fuel price increase was on the way.
“There is nothing like that. Go to PPPRA,” he said and walked away briskly.
However, the acting Executive Secretary of PPPRA, Sotonye Iyoyo, said the proposal was the personal opinion of the former state oil chiefs.
“If it was a recommendation, that is what it is, a personal opinion. I’m not aware if government is planning any fuel price increase. We are in a liberalised market already,” she said.
Spokesperson of the NNPC, Garba Deen Mohammed, also described the advice as an “opinion.”
“The forum was expressing its opinion, which it is entitled to,” Mohammed said.
“NNPC is a player in the petroleum industry and has a right to have its views about the industry. Nobody is bound by the opinion.”

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