The House of Representatives is unhappy over the lingering scarcity of petrol in the country and has asked the Executive to submit a N800bn supplementary budget to the National Assembly to offset the debts allegedly owed fuel marketers.
The House Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) stated in Abuja on Sunday that if offsetting the debts would end the scarcity, it was the right step to take by the Federal Government.
The Chairman of the committee, Mr. Joseph Akinlaja, said the House had come to the conclusion that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation could not handle the importation of petrol alone and successfully end the current scarcity.
Akinlaja noted that with the country’s four refineries producing little or nothing to augment the importation by the NNPC, the scarcity would continue because people would also continue to exploit loopholes in the distribution chain.
He said reports at the disposal of the committee suggested that the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association and the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria were collectively owed N800bn by the government for previous importation.
He added that as a result of the mounting debts, IPMAN, DAPMAN and MOMAN stopped importing products, leaving the NNPC alone to handle the challenge.
Akinlaja also stated that amid the scarcity, the fixing of the pump price of N145 at a time the government itself had admitted that the landing cost of petrol was N171, did not help matters.
He said, “This House has passed several resolutions on fuel scarcity. We have said on countless occasions that our four refineries must work at full capacity. We have said that if it is N145 per litre, enforcement agencies must be able to enforce the price.
“Now, IPMAN, DAPMAN and MOMAN, they said government is owing them N800bn; they are no longer importing. Let the government bring N800bn supplementary budget, we will consider it for this problem to be over.
“Are we going for full deregulation? Let the government come out fully to say they want to deregulate. The House is ready to oblige them on any of these issues to end the scarcity.”
Akinlaja also said another factor to be considered was the rising price of crude oil, which must naturally affect the pump prices of petroleum products because Nigeria was an importer of fuel.
He added, “The way it is, if crude oil price is going up, that is good for us as a country, because we are making more money. But, the other side of it is that we also have to pay more for the imported refined products.
“So, price will continue to be a big issue as long as we rely on importation.”