*Says govt must explain position on subsidy removal
31 December 2015, Sweetcrude, Abuja — The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has criticized the new pump price of petrol as announced by the Federal Government, describing it as very meagre and cannot justify the claim on subsidy removal by the All Progressives Congress, APC, led administration.
The party said the move was nothing but a continuation of the government by deception being practised by the APC.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, on Wednesday, PDP said apart from its deceptive element, the reduction in the N87 per litre pump price to N86 and N86.50 per litre for the retail outlets of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and retail outlets of private business concerns respectively offered too little to cheer.
Metuh said: “After heightened expectations occasioned by the promise to review the N87 per litre pump price of petrol made by the administration amid crippling scarcity of the product during the Christmas season, the announcement of this tokenism has come as a disappointing anti-climax, considering that only in January this year, the PDP federal government reduced the pump price from N97 to N87 per litre.
“That was done in the wake of the fall in the price of crude oil to between $42.65 and $50 per barrel. The PDP government then, in reaction to the development in the global oil market, revised its pricing template that brought down the pump price by N2.84 more than the N87 fixed as the pump price of petrol. The implication was that the federal government was still subsidising the N87 price by N2.84 per every litre of the product.
“The APC-controlled federal government, consequent upon stepping in the saddle on May 29 this year, considered the market and decided through a supplementary appropriation to pay N413 billion as subsidy to petroleum marketers. In announcing the new pump prices, the APC federal government claimed that the subsidy element has been removed. The question is; how much were we paying for subsidy when the pump price was N87? Has this marginal reduction now knocked off completely the huge subsidy paid at N87 per litre or should it not have only further reduced the size of the subsidy?
“The APC government therefore must explain what it is trying to hide. The government could not have earmarked and/or paid a whopping N413billion in subsidy through its 2015 supplementary appropriation when petrol was selling at N87 per litre and now tells us that at N86 or N86.50 per litre, no subsidy will be paid. Is it trying to make the previous government look dubious or what? This government must explain its suspicious position on the subsidy issue. Nigerians can no longer put up with ambiguities and deception.
“Nigerians must question the sincerity of this government with regards to the removal of subsidy; Nigerians should ask President Buhari to tell them in clear terms at what ceiling of crude oil price, was it subsidy no longer necessary: at N87 or this new price regime?
“For the records, we also wish to remind Nigerians of the insincerity of some members of the APC on the fuel subsidy claim while in the opposition. For instance, when oil fell to $66 per barrel in December 2014, the current Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, who was the Governor of Lagos State then, said: ‘Now we should be enjoying cheap fuel if the price, of oil has dropped globally.
“Even as we import the product, a major component has reduced in price and while this has reduced, the pump price of fuel in the country still remains virtually the same. Then something is wrong. If the price increases in the country when the price of oil goes up globally, then it should also reduce when the price of oil drops.’
“Similarly, when oil fell to $44 per barrel in January 2015, the current Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who was the spokesperson of the then opposition APC said; ‘When crude oil was selling at $100 per barrel, the landing cost of PMS without subsidy was N125 per litre. Now that the oil price has crashed to about $44 per barrel, landing cost without subsidy is about N65 per litre. The same goes for diesel which should not sell for more than N90 per litre.’
“Lai Mohammed had said further, ‘Early this year, Zambia slashed the price of petrol by 23 per cent while Tanzania reduced the pump price of the product by 16 per cent. In the United States, which until recently was importing crude oil from Nigeria, the price of fuel has fallen for 113 consecutive days as of January 16. Therefore, the 10.3 per cent price slash in Nigeria is too meager, too late.’
“Nigerians should now ask them what has changed in their calculations that they could not significantly reduce the pump price. As a party, the PDP insists that never again should Nigerians allow desperate men to use lies, propaganda and intimidations to win elections and get to power, only for them to fumble and muddle through governance.”