The House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on the Review of Pump Price of Petrol, has accused the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, an agency under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, headed by President Muhammadu Buhari, of short changing Nigerians, through its pricing template.
According to the House, pump price of petrol should not be more than N70 per litre.
Recall, that former President, Goodluck Jonathan, left the fuel pump price at N65.50/litre before President Buhari, suddenly increased the price to N145 per/litre, citing government’s total deregulation of the section.
However, investigations by the Committee at a public hearing on Monday, January 23, revealed that the N84, 000 port charges, and the N30,000 administration charge per litre of petrol, were fraudulent, particularly as the N84, 000 was for services never provided by the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, and the N30,000 was provided for in the budget of the PPPRA.
The Committee, lamented that the present administration inflated most charges by 100 percent, which accumulated and incurred unnecessary charges, leading to the sporadic increment of petrol from N85.50 to N145 per litre.
The Executive Secretary of the PPPRA, Victor Shidok, while countering the House’s stance, insisted that administrative charge was used to pay for the services of certified Cargo Inspectors, who are engaged by the agency.
Shidok, taking a swipe at the Chairman of the Committee, Honourable Raphael Nnanna Igbokwe, disclosed that the N1.3 billion budgeted and approved for the PPPRA, as cost of hiring six Cargo Inspectors, was inadequate for payment of the Inspectors, and to take care of other overhead charges, which may likely necessitate a further increment of petrol.
“The admin charge is to cover their expenses and our staff, whom we send to depots across the country… I still maintain that the N30,000 charge, is to cover our overheads.
“The N1.3 billion was insufficient to pay the Cargo Inspectors, and also take care of our staff.
“The admin charge is to augment the budgetary allocation to take care of our overhead operations,” Shidok said.
Directing the PPPRA to provide documents on the total monies collected as admin charge from 2012 – 2016, and since subsidy was removed in 2016, in addition to expenditure of the monies, the House discovered that the recent charges instituted by this present administration, was responsible for the wide spread increment and hardship.
Responding to queries on why locally refined petrol pump price is not cheaper than the imported one since the charges apply to imports, Shidok said the PPPRA set two separate templates with a price range of N140-N145 per litre.
The Committee further noted that from the data made available, the NNPC is actually expected to sell below N145 per litre.
The Chairman of the Committee however, insisted that if the unnecessary costs were removed, Nigerians would not have to pay more than N70 per litre.
”In the 2017 budget which is before us, PPPRA has a proposal of another N500 million for regulation, monitoring, and supply of petrol.
“This budgetary provisions have already taken care of the purpose for which you charge 30k on the template, yet Nigerians continue to bear the burden by paying N145 per litre,” the Chairman lamented.
He noted that the N84,000 per litre port charge, which is meant to be paid to the NPA, are for services never provided.
“This has left Nigerians in a situation where they still pay for lightening services for smaller vessels that go to Cotonou or Lome, to offload products from mother vessels… but PPPRA will then add the cost to the pump price, and ask Nigerians to pay”, Igbokwe further decried.
A representative of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Mr. Okon Ephraim, reacting to Igbokwe’s submissions, owned up that the agency is unaware of the modalities used by the PPPRA, to charge N84,000 for port charges.
The development led to the Committee, directing that the Managing Director, MD, NPA, Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman, to appear at its next sitting, which is today.
Those who attended the public hearing were: officials of the PPPRA, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, the NPA, Major Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, and Labour Unions in the petroleum sector.
The Executive Secretary of MOMAN, Obafemi Olawore, noted that: “The NPA is not helping matters, by collecting ports dues in dollars.
“This puts pressure on the Naira. Why can’t we pay with Naira in a Naira economy? A lot of revenue is lost to Lome (Togo), especially when it is true that ports. Dues in Nigeria are the highest along the West Coast of Africa,” Olawore said.