27 January 2012, Sweetcrude, ABUJA – The management of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, has disclosed that it has put strategies in place to checkmate sharp practices by petroleum marketers who may be aiming to reap from the recent crisis that engulfed the downstream sector of the oil and gas industry.
There are indications that many of the marketers planned to submit their subsidy claims of the past few months, even when it was clear they had “switched” over immediately to the new rates of N141 per litre over previous (fourth quarter) stock.
According to a source at the pricing regulatory agency, “any effort by the marketers to subvert the process and make undue profit will be readily thwarted by the agency.”
He observed that the PPPRA has instituted a rigorous inspection mechanism that would ensure that sharp practices by importers and marketers are eliminated, adding that it was unthinkable for the marketers to claim subsidy over products from which they had dispensed at the unsubsidized market price.
He said, “Before now, payment of subsidy was based on products discharged, and not necessarily on truck-out. But with the new regime of inspections, we now know what products they have in their vessels and can track these products whether they do ship to ship, or any other means. They know we are watching and it will not be easy for any marketer to double-dip.
“It is common sense that nobody should expect to reap where they have not sown. Marketers cannot claim subsidy for products they sold at prevailing prices during the two weeks of subsidy removal.
“It is scandalous that after many years, the country was not able to accurately determine the quantity of products that is brought into the country, as well as the level of consumption. With the new inspection regime started in December, 2011, the agency is now able to determine these things and to demand accountability from importers and marketers alike,” the source added.
At a recent meeting with marketers of petroleum products to discuss operational guidelines for the fourth quarter (Q4), 2011 allocation, the Executive Secretary of the PPPRA, Mr. Reginald Stanley stressed the resolve of the new management to create greater efficiency in the process of products importation, distribution and the subsidy management.
According to Stanley, new and rigorous systems, including a triple-inspections mechanism, aimed at creating more transparency in the downstream sector would be put in place to guarantee that unscrupulous marketers do not make excess profits at the expense of the economy.
He said, “As a major stakeholder at the forefront of ensuring uninterrupted supply and distribution, government and the general public shall be expecting from us pragmatic solutions to the perennial scarcity, especially during this festive period when consumption of petroleum products is expected to increase astronomically.”
Stanley noted that reported cases of queues and sharp practices at some filling stations across the country, was largely because of hitches which arose in the aftermath of the subsidy removal crisis which engulfed the country in the New Year.
“This trend can only be curtailed if all of us shows sufficient commitment to government’s effort to make the downstream sector more efficient and sustainable,” he added.
The PPPRA boss further noted that the Agency has put in place stringent operational guidelines to ensure efficient Q4 allocation, adding that oil marketers granted permits in Q3, but who have not fulfilled their obligation before the end of the year would face stiff sanctions.
He said the new management of the agency expects that the new era of vigilance and rigour will become the norm given the reform that is going on in the industry.