… urge rollout of gas-powered buses, palliatives
… demand halt to oil swap deal
The House of Representatives has called on the Federal Government to discontinue subsidies on not just the Premium Motor Spirit popularly known as petrol but on all petroleum products.
This call follows the re-emergence of queues at the various fuel stations across the country, following the recent increase in the pump price of petrol products occasioned by the stoppage of the subsidy on PMS.
The PUNCH reports that earlier on Wednesday, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited had informed of an adjustment of the pump price of petrol to reflect the market realities.
Following that step, several retail outlets also adjusted their tank prices to reflect new rates ranging from between N600 and N800 in Lagos, Abuja, Ogun, and other parts of the country.
However, the House urged the government to roll out palliatives and other measures to cushion the effects of the removal of the PMS subsidy on Nigerians.
These were part of the recommendations by the House Ad Hoc Committee on the Need to Investigate the Petroleum Products Subsidy Regime in Nigeria, which the lawmakers considered as a Committee of the Whole and adopted in plenary on Thursday.
Chairman of the committee, Ibrahim Aliyu, had laid the report on Wednesday, 11 months after the task was assigned to the panel.
The committee recommended that “the Federal Government should outrightly remove subsidies on all petroleum products.”
It also recommended that “the Federal Government should immediately design measures and palliatives to cushion the effects of the subsidy removal for Nigerians, effective from this year 2023, through the provision and procurement of Compressed Natural Gas buses as an alternative transport system with cheaper fuel consumption,” it remarked.
The panel stressed that the government should “introduce intermodal, regional and national transport systems to ease mass movement of people across the country.”
In addition, the committee recommended that the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission should “issue stricter and most appropriate regulations as provided in the Petroleum Industry Act to ensure that Nigerians are not short-changed through profiteering.”
The lawmakers equally urged the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation Committee to lead a reconciliation meeting between the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Joint Venture Contracts and the NMDPRC on the utilisation of their crude entitlements.
The report partly read, “With the total deregulation of the sector, all the agencies involved in crude lifting/security should have a representative with the Nigeria Navy as a lead agency to physically assess and document daily crude production and lifting:
“The committee also recommends that the Federal Government should, as a matter of urgency, liaise with the National Assembly to fashion out critical areas of economic development, in which the additional revenue from the proposed subsidy removal will be appropriately utilised.
“A further investigation, through a forensic audit by the Office of the Auditor General for the Federation, be made to ascertain whether the N413billion borrowed from the Central Bank of Nigeria for subsidy payments was refunded after the passage and assent of the 2015 budget as earlier approved by the President and the report of the Auditor General to be submitted to the House for further legislative action.
“With the subsidy removal, the Federal Government should forthwith suspend all Direct Sales Direct Purchase (oil swap) contracts. NNPCL should act by the provision of the PIA to ensure that the country is not sub-changed in both production, lifting, and sales of crude.
“The committee further recommended that the Nigeria Customs Service and the Weight and Measures Department of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment be equipped to ascertain the actual daily crude oil lifting from the country for proper checks and balances,” the report maintained.
Another recommendation was that the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Act, 2007, be amended by the National Assembly to be in tune with global best practices.
The panel further recommended that the National Assembly, especially the House standing or ad hoc committees in the 10th Assembly be saddled with such responsibility to conduct “a full-scale investigation on the defaulting oil companies and MDAs that have not met the expectations of the committee to ascertain their level of involvement or otherwise and further protect the commonwealth of the country.”
The House, had on June 29, 2022, resolved to investigate payments for subsidy on petroleum products, especially Premium Motor Spirit, popularly known as petrol, under the last administration led by the Major General, (retd), Muhammadu Buhari regime.
Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, had set up the panel whose probe covered 2017 to 2021, with the mandate to report back to the House within eight weeks for further legislative action.
The probe was based on a motion titled, ‘Need to Investigate the Petroleum Products Subsidy Regime in Nigeria from 2017 to 2021,’ which a member of the House, Sergius Ogun, moved at the plenary on Wednesday and the lawmakers unanimously adopted.