The Federal Government has disclosed that governors of the 36 states would, on Thursday, discuss and make their submissions on the issue of fuel price, which has been one of the bones of contention between government and organised labour.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, who made this known after a bipartite meeting of the Federal Government and organised labour held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa on Sunday night in Abuja, maintained that the government has concluded discussions with labour on the issue of fuel price.
According to him, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and labour have both presented their reports after critically looking into the report of the Technical Committee on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) Pricing Framework as agreed at the last meeting.
He said: “The labour side saw that they (NNPC) were making some points and like I said, it is work in progress. Governors are going to discuss this on Thursday. They have discussed this at the National Economic Council (NEC) and so everybody is involved because we find ourselves in dire straits.
There is no money for subsidy. “The NNPC has explained. What they are doing is import-dependent. Deregulation is import-dependent, but they are doing bulk purchasing. So, they can get discounts.
They are also using foreign exchange that is discounted for them.
They are not buying from the parallel market. So, all these things will be put in basket and a price will emerge from it.” On electricity tariff, Ngige who disclosed that the meeting adopted the report of its Ad-hoc Technical Committee on Electricity Tariffs, said some adjustments were made after which the committee was mandated to implement all the recommendations, including mass metering.
He noted that one of the recommendations was those forcefully migrated by distribution companies from lower paying bands C and D to upper bands A and B should petition
the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), adding that the DisCos responsible would be sanctioned. “You will start seeing members of the committee with the Minister of Power, going around now and making sure that the Dis- Cos put meters for people, because there are reports that they don’t want to be distributing meters and that they want to be doing bulk billing and estimated billings. So, we don’t want that. “There is also a resolution as regards gas companies reducing gas pricing for gas sold to power companies, GenCos and the rest of them, so that the price of electricity per unit will go down and the consumers will benefit from it. We have given the marching orders for them to do so. “Some paperwork has to be done and once that is done, price of electricity will go down and once it goes down, the consumers will benefit,” the minister said. However, Ngige announced that the social diaretary
logue between the Federal Government and labour has been adjourned to April as the two standing committees were still working. President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, confirmed that government and organised labour have reached an agreement on the issue of electricity tariff.
“We have had some understand that the issue of continued tariff increase can be addressed through the issue of appropriate gas pricing. For now, the gas pricing to the generating companies are actually at $2.80 and we have proposed that it should be reduced to $1.50.
It will affect the downward review of electricity tariff. “We have also looked at the inefficiency in the system especially the metering, which have become a major challenge, but fundamentally, we have said the entire privatization process is due for review.
The condition is that after five years of privatisation, the entire process should be reviewed,” he said. However, organised labour has raised concerns over the sustainability of the current import pricing method used by the Federal Government to fix the price of petroleum products in the country.
Wabba stressed the need to work out modalities to adopt Production Cost Pricing method, urged government to find a way of protecting and insulating Nigerians from the vagaries of market forces, by ensuring their welfare remains at the centre point of every government policy.
While calling on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to make sure the template serves Nigerians and not the market forces, he identified inherent interest in importation rather than refining as the reason why the refineries in the country were yet to be fixed.
“The reports were presented and we pointed out areas that we are not comfortable with and we were able to send our views across which will form bases of the decision. “We have been using the import pricing method, which I think it’s only Nigeria amongst the OPEC countries that has been using that method that intends that 100 per cent of what we consume is imported. We sell our crude oil and import finished product.
“To us, that is not sustainable, it’s exporting our jobs and our first priority is to see how the refineries can be fixed because before 1998, our refineries were working and the model and template that was used in fixing the price was Production Cost Pricing method. That is the same method used by all the OPEC countries.
“We are looking at the timeline for the refineries to start working. The benefits include jobs because the factories will spring up if we are able to refine the products.”
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, noted that all projections, including reports of economic sustainability committee put in place with robust response to COVID-19 pandemic, provided clear evidence that Nigeria was on its way to exit from recession in the first quarter of 2021.