An adjustment in the existing retail price for premium motor spirit (PMS), popularly called petrol appears to be in the offing for April, indications to that effect emerged on Friday in Abuja.
All government agencies involved in determining the pricing template of petroleum products in the country were meeting on Friday in Abuja to discuss the issue.
An authoritative source close to the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) told our reporter the meeting at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Towers in Abuja had in attendance representatives from the petroleum products pricing regulatory agency.
The source who requested that his name should not be disclosed, as he was not authorized to speak officially on the issue, said other agencies represented at the meeting included the NNPC, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Petroleum Equalization Fund (PEF) and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).
It is not clear if the representatives of the organised Labour were also invited to the meeting.
Although the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has a representative on the Board of the PPPRA, the Labour movement has always opposed any idea by the government on petrol price review.
A tripartite technical ommittee mandated to dialogue on an acceptable framework for pricing petroleum products have not been able to reach an agreement on the way forward on the issue.
After several meetings since September last year when it was constituted, the meeting was suspended last month.
Labour has always insisted it would not be party to any arrangement that would allow importation-based fuel deregulation in the country.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva clarified that the decision to suspend the meeting was temporary, and not as a result of any disagreement by the parties.
He said the decision for the meeting take a short break was to allow for further consultation with the relevant interested parties to the issue.
The Minister assured that the dialogue would be reinstated immediately after the Easter holidays.
On March 11, 2021, the PPPRA stirred a massive controversy about possible plans by the government to increase the retail price of petrol.
The agency had published what it called “monthly Guiding Price template of petrol,” to give the fuel consuming public an idea about the most realistic guide to fuel price.
Since then, speculations have been rife that a review of the petrol price was a matter of time.
However, the clearest indication about the frustration and dilemma by the government on the issue of petrol price emerged last week when the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kyari, told State House Correspondents in Abuja that the over N120 billion monthly subsidy for petrol by the NNPC was no longer sustainable.
Kyari said the prevailing market conditions for imported petroleum products made the actual retail cost of imported petrol and handling charges to be N234 per litre, against the current price N162 per litre, a subsidy exposure of about N72 per litre.
This newspaper learnt the NNPC had earlier written to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, to complain about the enormous pressure the corporation was facing over the huge monthly subsidy payment.
But despite assurances by both NNPC and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources that the government was not contemplating a fuel price increase, marketers have since adjusted the pump price at their filling stations.
In the last two weeks, some filling stations in Abuja and environs have been selling petrol at N165 per litre.
It was learnt that the meeting at the NNPC was convened to consider a decision on a possible price hike immediately after Easter.
The idea of the meeting followed a report by the PPPRA that its latest market monitoring review showed that the ex-depot price obtainable for March was no longer sustainable and must be reviewed to reflect current reality.