*Harp on equal level-playing ground for NNPC, marketers
Lagos — The recent announcement by state-owned company, the NNPC that the downstream of the oil and gas sector has been deregulated, has raised questions begging for answers.
During a one-day virtual media workshop organized by Foster during the week, industry experts and facilitators, Ronke Onadeko and Toyin Akinosho argued that the supposed deregulation is not as total as NNPC made it to appear, as they pointed out the firm’s GMD, Mele Keyari to have said government would still be in charge of fixing prices of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS popularly known as petrol.
According to them, total deregulation would mean the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC handing off fixing of prices and allow market forces to determine such as is being done with kerosene, diesel, and others.
“First of all, we are not sure that the supposed deregulation is not because of the current market situation around the world and that it would not be called off after prices go back to normal. But if truly the sector has been deregulated “forever” like Keyari said, then why is NNPC still giving price windows of PMS to be sold between N125 and N123.5? Prices should be left to market forces to determine,” Ronke Onadeko said.
Toyin Akinosho argued that usually, unlike other marketers, NNPC gets concessions for dollars from the Central Bank of Nigeria which at the end of the day, would make it sell at lower prices from others. This, including debt levels, and many other factors she said, would not pan out well for marketers who may be discouraged to start importing petrol.
They both called for an equal level-ground from CBN when issuing dollars to both NNPC and other marketers.
“If truly deregulation will work then, NNPC should not be given preference over others when it comes to the rate and time frame it attends to NNPC as against others”, Mr. Akinosho said.
Again, they argued that before stakeholders can believe that deregulation regime has truly set in, other bodies such as the CBN, Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, Ministry of Finance and other body chains would have to publicly announce their support, adding that at the moment, NNPC is still the only body who had made announcement regarding an end to the subsidy regime.
“Stakeholders who also want to hear from others because for now, it is just Keyari that spoke and we wonder whether in the first place he had the right to speak on such matter,” Mrs. Onadeko added.