Petrol can't sell for N145/litre, marketers insist

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The scarcity of the product, according to the ministry, was caused by hoarding and diversion.

The fuel marketers, however, insisted that they could no longer import and sell Premium Motor Spirit, popularly known as petrol, at the controlled price of N145 per litre.

Kachikwu stated, "The thing is even the Nigerians, who have suffered, will want to be sure that we find a lasting solution and find evidential basis upon which to punish people".

They also denied insinuations that they were responsible for the recent scarcity of the product across the country.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and Board Chairman, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, has reeled out options being weighed to guarantee seamless supply and distribution of petroleum products across the Country within an 18-month corridor, ahead of the eventual attainment of local refining capacity. "I don't have one (evidence) yet; if you have one, I will like to have it".

Kachikwu, however, proffered three alternative solutions to pump price increase: getting the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to introduce a modulated foreign exchange rate specifically for importers of the product; giving the marketers significant tax adjustments to enable them to absorb the high cost; and a plural pricing system whereby the NNPC would continue to sell at N145 through its numerous outlets while the marketers are allowed to fix their own price.

Dr. Ibe Kachikwu disclosed this during a presentation to a joint committee on Petroleum (Downstream) of the Senate and the House of Representatives on Thursday.

A meeting of the committee of stakeholders set up at the Presidential Villa reportedly took the decision yesterday.

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The President, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chinedu Okoronkwo, said the meeting reached a resolution that would see the fuel supply problem resolved once and for all.

The have formed a committee from today's meeting to look into how to solve this fuel problem.

"From our point of view as marketers, we made our submissions known to government and we emphasized the fact that this was not a marketer-related problem".

He explained that crude prices had remained relatively stable from January to December until his members lost the ability to import and sell at N145 per litre when the prices went up due to the hurricane Katrina in September/October. And this business is a partnership between marketers and NNPC.

On subsidy, the DAPPMAN leader said at the moment there was no subsidy to marketers, as government chose to cap the fuel price at N145 per litre.

"In the past, marketers bring in about 60%, while NNPC about 35 to 40%". A correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, who went round to monitor situation in the city, reports that although the price is still remained high, motorist now drive into the stations easily to buy fuel.

The minister expressed sympathy for the painful experience Nigerians went through during the yuletide period, assuring that government was determined to find lasting solutions to the problem. If we are going to sell at N145, we need to put some mechanisms in place so that the private sector will go back importation. "So, government has to find a way and ensure that marketers import alongside NNPC and still sell at N145", Mr. Abiodun said.

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