By Obas Esiedesa
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, on Thursday said the Federal Government no longer controlled the pump price of petrol as it would now be determined by market forces.
He said the government could therefore no longer fund the subsidy of petrol.
Sylva who spoke in Abuja explained: “Government is no longer in the business of fixing prices for petroleum products, we have stepped back. Our focus now is on protecting the interest of the consumers and making sure that marketers are not profiteering”.
He said that it was unfortunate that people were blaming government, noting that the deregulation of the sector was imperative for the economy.
According to him, it was also a consensus among stakeholders for such strong policy direction stressing that the well-being of Nigeria remains paramount to government.
“You all know that that President Muhammadu Buhari aligns with ordinary Nigerians, especially the poor.
“Left for him, he will never allow increase in pump price; for this to happen, it means that it is an inevitable decision.
“Covid-19 took the price of crude oil to zero zone,” the minister said.
He said that government had cut crude production from two million barrels to 1.412 million barrels per day.
This, he said, was affecting revenue generation in the country.
He said that it was unfortunate that the deregulation of the sector was politicised, urging Nigerians not to listen to any advocacy for subsidy payment.
“Deregulation will definitely come with few pains, but survival of the country is paramount,” he said.
In a related development, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resource, Chief Timipre Sylva has said that two regulatory bodies in the oil and gas sector will be merged as one regulator in the new Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
Sylva disclosed this while briefing newsmen in Abuja on Thursday.
The two agencies are Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) and Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).
He said that the two would be merged under the name: “The Authority” as regulator in the industry.
He said that the agencies would still be relevant to serve as regulators in the industry, noting that without PPPRA and PEF, it would be difficult to deal with profiteers.
“PEF and PPPRA will emerge as one under a name The Authority’ and will be helping to police the pump price of petrol so that nobody will profiteer”.