In what looks like a confirmation of speculations over the past weeks, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has admitted that the current market price of N145 per litre for petrol may soon be hiked.
There are also speculations that oil marketers may want to take advantage of the Christmas period to hike the price, and gain more from expected increased demands that goes with the yuletide.
But many Nigerians have already frowned at having the increase within the yuletide as had always been in the past.
However, officials said there were two options left for the fuel marketers: either to adjust price that should not exceed two per cent profit margin or allow the price regulatory unit of NNPC resolve the new price to be announced, all aimed at retaining supply flow.
“The whole idea is to avoid reverting to the era of fuel scarcity, nobody will like to experience fuel scarcity in this country, neither does anyone want us to go back to the era of fuel subsidy” said an NNPC spokesman.
According to him despite the preferential exchange rate made available to oil marketers to import petrol, many were reluctant to do so because they would be selling at a loss at the prevalent pump price, implying that NNPC that continues to import it was subsidizing petrol.
Putting a seal on the issue on Monday, the group general manager, Crude Oil Marketing Division at the NNPC, Mr. Mele Kyari, said that the present administration would not announce another increase in the petrol pump price to avoid being accused of dictating price of fuel.
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He confirmed that some suppliers had already stopped importation because of the current pricing regime.
“We have a very difficult business environment. It is impossible today to import products at the current market price, at the current foreign exchange rate. There is no way today you can take the product to retail and sell at N145. It is not possible today.
“If that is true and I believe that it is true because we all go to the market, why can’t we sell above N145? That is where legislation should come in,” Kyari said.
“ I also know today that it is impossible for this government to announce tomorrow that petrol is about N150. This government cannot do it. That is the truth. The people will not take that number. That is why suppliers are not importing,” he added.
Reports from parts of the country last week indicated that long queues were sighted in some filling stations in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Enugu, which NNPC quickly denied was a sign of fuel price review in waiting.
By Emma Eke….
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