As Nigeria draws the curtain on fuel subsidy, a coalition of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to transition the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and the Petroleum Equalization Fund (PEF) into new roles to ensure the sustainability of the proposed ‘non-subsidy policy’. They suggested that the presidency repeals the Act of the PPPRA and PEF, so they can morph into efficient and competent institutions to support the reforms encapsulated in the proposed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
The CSOs are made up of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), BUDGIT, Spaces For Change (S4C), Youth Forum of Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI), Centre for the Study of Economies of Africa (CSEA), Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC), Media Initiative for Transparency in Extractive Industries INDUSTRIES (MITEI), among others.
In a statement, the CSOs urged the government to prepare for a post-price regulation era by prioritizing consumer protection to ensure that when the downstream sector of the petroleum industry is liberalized, the interests of the people would not suffer exploitation in the hands of profiteering marketers.
“We suggest anti-trust or competition propositions using the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2019.
“We encourage the government to consider providing varied options for Nigerians in terms of transportation systems in the country when inevitably, increases in price of crude oil increases result in the rise of the price of refined petroleum products.
We suggest that the NNPC as the National Oil Company should not be given any advantage, whether comparative or competitive, over other petroleum products marketers in terms of access to foreign exchange to handle their importation of products activities to create a level playing field for all players. If the NNPC must remain a player in the market, it must strive to operate under the same conditions and rules as other players in the sector regulated only by the prevailing market forces and competition”, they noted.
The CSOs threw their weight behind the call for the privatization of the country’s four refineries in their present condition to avoid further revenue losses.
“We suggest the adoption of a transparent merit based model for privatization either considering the NLNG for part privatization or an outright sale. We encourage the government to adopt favorable fiscal terms that bring about a renewed investors’ confidence and also help fast track the proposed 29+ refineries, which still have valid operating licenses.
“We enjoin the Presidency and the Minister of State of Petroleum Resources, Department of Petroleum Resources, and PPPRA to publicly support the declarations made by the GMD of NNPC on the removal of fuel subsidy through an official public statement on April 8, 2020 signed by the signed by the GMD-NNPC in various media appearances in recent times.
“We entreat the government to lay out defined processes and regulatory guidelines to support the announced removal of fuel subsidy. These should be pushed forward and announced by the Presidency and the Minister of Petroleum Resources to give the policy an official seal of affirmation to all Nigerians that we are not in another false expedition.
“We call on the Federal Government to commit to the sustainability of the no-subsidy regime by entreating it in law, either through a stand-alone legislation, or through appropriate clauses integrated into the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) will allow for the sustainability of the no-subsidy regime”, the statement added.