The dialogue between the Federal Government and organised Labour to establish an acceptable framework for pricing of petroleum products is to resume after Easter, Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, has said.
Ngige said representatives of both parties agreed to proceed on a month-long break to allow for further consultation on the issue.
But his counterpart and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipreye Sylva, has said the government is looking forward to the end of this year for the downstream sector of the petroleum industry to be fully deregulated
Since the policy was introduced in April last year, its implementation has attracted enormous criticism and controversies from Nigerians, most of who accuse the government of insincerity.
The pricing of premium motor spirit (PMS), popularly called petrol, appears to be fixed despite to the contrary by the government.
Although the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) says it’s no more involved in determining the retail price of the commodity outside fuel market forces of demand and supply, not many Nigerians are convinced.
Last week, the agen y threw the whole country into confusion as it posted on its website a new pricing template of N209 and N212.60 per litre for petrol for March 2021.
The new price which showed an adjustment in price from the current N162 and N163 per litre retail price band showed over 31 per ent price hike from the price announced last year.
However, speaking at the opening session of the 56th Annual International Conference and Exhibition of the Nigeria Mining and Geoscience Society (NMGS) at the University of Ibadan, the Minister full deregulation policy would be achieved before the end of the year.
With the ongoing dialogue with organised labour on the most acceptable fuel pricing framework, the Minister appeared optimistic that a consensus with the NLC and its affiliate organization would be achieved on or before then.
“We have been talking about deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry for decades. Unfortunately, we have not succeeded yet to fully achieve it. We have succeeded in deregulating some products.
“Kerosene has been fully deregulated; diesel has been fully deregulated. But deregulation of the price of petrol has continued to elude us. We expect that this year we will be able to achieve that.
“But, before I that we want to apply the principle of tolling on the roads. But before you toll a road, you are expected to give an alternative.
“So, what the government wants to do for Nigerians is to give a credible and cheaper fuel as an alternative before we fully deregulated. We believe we will be able to achieve this before the end of this year.
“Of course, tollinh is going to be a responsible way we hope to maintain our environment,” the Minister said.
Meanwhile, while the government is looking forward to the implementation of full deregulation policy by December, the Nigeria Labour Congress and its Trade Union Congress (TUC) affiliate appear to be mobilizing in pursuance of a different agenda.
It was learnt that the group has already concluded plans for a strategy meeting after the forthcoming Easter break to discuss the way forward over the issue. .
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, denthe government had not presented any proposal on petrol pump price before the Labour for deliberation, contrary to the reports about a proposed new pump price of the commodity.
Since September last year when Labour met with representatives of the government following the last price adjustment, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, who presented some market indices to Labour noted they were not sustainable.
At the meeting, Kyari gave the average landing cost of petrol at about N202 per litre, apparently suggesting the N162 per litre price for petrol would be reviewed upwards in no distant future.
At the end of the bilateral meeting of the technical committee set up last year to look at an acceptable framework for petrol pricking g, the NLC criticized the recommendations in the report submitted to the government.
The NLC told the government they were still standing by its position not to support a deregulation policy that was based on importation of petroleum products.
They insisted on the government completing the rehabilitation of the country’s four refineries in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna before reintroducing deregulation.
“We want the pump price of petrol to be N168 per litre. We were able to prove our point about three weeks ago when we suggested alternatives to the government team led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.
“We presented some cost-cutting measures to the government which will make N168 per litre realistic. We have rejected the N209 or N202.60 per litre price band. We are waiting for the resumption of talks after the Easter break,” the NLC said.
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