Abuja — A consortium of Civil Society Organizations, CSO, has called on the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to ensure the creation of a level playing field for all importers of Premium Motor Spirit.
In a statement signed on their behalf by Ms. Tengi George-Ikoli, Programme Coordinator of the Nigeria Natural Resource Charter, NNRC, the consortium cautioned the CBN against placing the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, at an advantage over others.
The Consortium said: “If the NNPC must remain a player in the market, it must strive to operate under the same conditions and rules as other players in the sector regulated only by the prevailing market forces and competition.”
The CSOs called on the NNPC to take urgent practical steps to reverse the fortunes of the loss-making refineries as revealed in its published 2018 Audited Reports of its subsidiaries, noting that the refineries remain cost centers that the Nigerian government can ill afford, given the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and other fiscal pressures on its economy.
They said: “The Nigerian government should create an enabling environment for the private sector to contribute to the efficient running of the refineries so that Nigerian can reach its domestic refining goals.”
While commending the government for providing initial regulation to support the deregulation efforts in June 2020, the CSOs noted that the government’s engagement with the public on the effects of the deregulation left a lot to be desired.
They encouraged the government to ramp up its engagements with the public to improve their awareness and understanding of the deregulation process and all it portends for the Nigerian people.
The CSOs also called on the Federal Government to immediately repeal the laws establishing the Petroleum Equalization Fund, PEF, and the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, and explain the role of the Petroleum Support Fund, PSF, to show that it is really committed to its policy on full deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector.
They advised the Federal Government to give the deregulation drive a legal backing, by enacting an appropriate legislation or embedding it as part of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
The group said: “The government should repeal the PPPRA Act, the PEF(M)B Act and the Price Control Act specifically, section 6(1) of the Petroleum Act, Schedule 1 of the Price Control Act, all acts that ensure a potential of returning to a price fixing regime and demonstrate to the Nigerian people that the declaration of full deregulation is merely a statement of intent and not yet honored.”
According to the consortium, there is need for the Federal Government to commit to the sustainability of the deregulation regime by entreating it in law, either through a stand-alone legislation, or through appropriate clauses integrated into the PIB, as this would allow for the sustainability of the no-subsidy regime.
The consortium, formed in April 2020 and spearheaded by the Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC) is comprised of the following civil society organizations: Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), BudgIT, Connected Development (CODE), Media Initiative for Transparency in Extractive Industries (MITEI), OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative, Women in Extractives (WiE), and Extractive 360.
Others are Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa (CSEA), Youth Forum on Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (Youth Forum on EITI), Publish What You Pay (PWYP), Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), African Centre for Leadership Strategy and Development (CentreLSD), Centre for Development Support Initiatives (CEDSI), Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) and Koyenum Immalah Foundation (KIF).