The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has said a number of steps have been taken to maintain the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) at N145 per litre despite significant challenges in the downstream sector.
Kachikwu stated this in Lagos on Wednesday in a keynote address at the Rainoil 20th Anniversary Lecture.
The minister, who was represented by the Group Executive Director/Chief Operating Officer, Downstream, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mr. Henry Ikem-Obih, said the issue of freighting and docking was addressed last month.
He said the ministry would continue to work with the Central Bank of Nigeria to make foreign exchange available to marketers for importation of petroleum products.
Kachikwu stated, “We are also working very hard with the NNPC to reduce some of the charges on products such as the usual five per cent provision on proforma invoices as allowed for ship-to-ship operations.
“We are doing all these to help manage and maintain the current price ceiling of N145 per litre in the face of very significant challenges.”
He said the NNPC had recorded commendable performance in service delivery, products supply and distribution, adding, “It has done what it is supposed to do as a supplier of last resort. But the reality is that the NNPC needs to be run as a business.”
According to the minister, when 50 per cent or more of products are being brought in by marketers, there will be more activity in the sector, jobs will be created and more taxes will be paid to the government.
“So, we must begin to move the market to a point where private sector operators are more involved. If we achieve that, everybody will compete and have a longer term view of the market from an investment standpoint,” Kachikwu added.
The Group Managing Director, Rainoil Limited, Mr. Gabriel Ogbechie, who noted that the company got its first service stations in 1997 by lease, said it had invested across the entire value chain of the downstream sector with a staff strength of over 700 people.
He stated that the sector was fraught with some challenges, adding, “At a time like this, the industry stakeholders should come together to discuss the way forward. We are convinced that significant changes are needed if we are to move forward.”