fuel price hike is a fraud – Reps

How some agencies and parastatals imposed un­justified charges and caused Nigerians to pay more for petroleum products has been ex­posed by the House of Represent­atives Ad-hoc Committee on the Review of the Pump Price of Pet­rol.

At a special public hearing on Monday in Abuja, the Lower Chamber identified the offenders as the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Petroleum Products Prices Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and the Nigerian Maritime Adminis­tration Safety Agency (NIMASA).

The lawmakers noted that the three organisations collectively im­posed the sum of 136kobo per litre of petrol as administrative charges on Nigerians thereby compelling them to pay more for the product.

According to the lawmakers, while the NPA collects 84 kobo per litre, PPPRA charges 30 kobo while NIMASA imposed an un­justified 22 kobo per litre. All these avoidable charges, the House la­mented are transferred to Nige­rians.

The committee headed by Hon. Raphael Nnanna Igbokwe, during the first leg of a two-day public hearing held in Abuja, said that the NPA is not doing enough to justify the 84 kobo/litre it col­lects from fuel importers.

He said that the NPA would have justified the amount it col­lects if the seas were dredged and vessels do not have to endure ship-to- ship discharging of products which adds to the costs of products and loss of revenue for the Federal Government.

Igbokwe declared that the Act­ing General Manager of the NPA, Mr. Ephraim Okoro, lacked the ca­pacity to answer all the prodding questions of the committee and in­sisted that the Managing Director must be at today’s (Tuesday) ses­sion to answer relevant questions on the issue.

The lawmakers established that the 30 kobo built into the tem­plate by the PPPRA as “administra­tive charge” was needless because the National Assembly always ap­proves a separate budget for the same purpose.

Igbokwe tendered a copy of the 2016 Budget as evidence, where the sum of N1.3 billion was approved for PPPRA to cover the cost of hiring six cargo inspectors.

“In the 2017 Budget, which is before us, the PPPRA has a pro­posal of another N500 million for regulation, monitoring and supply of petrol. These budgetary provi­sions have taken care of the pur­pose for which you charge 30 kobo on the template, yet Nigerians con­tinue to bear the burden by paying N145 per litre,” Igbokwe lamented.

He said that though the in­crease was said to eliminate the payment of subsidy by the gov­ernment and the attendant fraud, there must be justification for the N145 being charged and if Nige­rians are getting value from the agencies who earned income from the price template of petrol.

On the part of the PPPRA, which was represented by its Exec­utive Secretary, Victor Shidok, the agency told the committee that the 30 kobo administrative charge on petrol is for services like data cap­turing and monitoring by officials deployed in the depots across the country.

The committee however in­sisted that the agency must pre­sent its list of inspectors engaged from 2012 till date, amounts paid, copies of agreements entered into with them and proof of payment.

The agency is also to provide proof of total amount received as administrative charges from 2012 till date.

The Executive Secretary, Ma­jor Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Mr. Obafe­mi Olawore, said the fact that im­porters pay NIMASA and the NPA in dollar puts more pressure on the Naira.

He said though the NPA’s 84 kobo/litre and NIMASA’s 22 kobo/litre Harbour and Wharfage charg­es are statutory, they are high.

According to him, NPA’s port charges “are the highest in the West African sub-region.” He also complained over multiple levies by agencies and even some state gov­ernments, and pleaded with the committee to intervene.

The President, Nigeria Un­ion of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Igwe Achese, the President of Petrole­um and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGAS­SAN), Francis Johnson, and Com­rade Bobboi Kaigama, President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) warned that Nigerians will not ac­cept another increase in petrol price.


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