Fuel Subsidy Hits N1.7bn/pd, as Oil Price Hovers at $63.1 Per Barrel
There are indications that despite the implementation of the no subsidy policy by the Federal Government, subsidy obligations of the government may have started mounting with last week’s closing daily figure at about N1.7 billion, or N12 billion during the week.
This follows the huge leap in the international oil price, the benchmark for local petrol price determination. The crude prices closed last week at about $63.14 per barrel in the global market.
On February 5, 2021, when the oil price was nearing $60 per barrel, the expected open market price of petrol rose from N160 to N190 per litre, based on the petrol pricing template of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA.
Since then, the PPPRA, which listed some items, including Administrative charges and Retailers margin at N1.23, and N6.19 respectively, has not released a comprehensive template, capable of guiding stakeholders in the sector.
But a visit to the private depots in Lagos, and its environs, weekend, showed that the landing cost of the product stood at N180 per litre, meaning that the pump price would certainly be in excess of N192 per litre.
However, the product is currently being sold at N162 at many filling stations in Lagos, Abuja, and other cities, although some Independent marketers in the outskirts sold at higher prices across the country.
Based on an expected open market price of N192 per litre of petrol and an average current pump price of N162 per litre, the nation’s petrol subsidy hovers at about N30 per litre.
Nevertheless, with a daily petrol consumption of about 57 million litres, and a subsidy of N30 per litre, the subsidy currently hovers at N1.7 billion daily, and N12 billion weekly.
No price increase — NNPC
However, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, apparently the nation’s sole importer, said in spite of the rise in the price of crude, it would not increase the ex-depot price of petrol in February 2021.
In a statement signed by the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Dr. Kennie Obateru, the Corporation, stated that the decision was to allow ongoing engagements with organized labour and other stakeholders on an acceptable framework that will not expose the ordinary Nigerian to any hardship, to be concluded.
NNPC urged petroleum products, marketers, not to engage in the hoarding of the product in order not to create artificial scarcity and unnecessary hardship for Nigerians while giving assurance that it has enough stock of petrol to keep the nation well supplied for about 40 days.
It further called on relevant regulatory authorities, especially the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, to step up monitoring of the activities of marketers with a view to sanctioning those involved in product hoarding or arbitrary increase of pump price.
It would be recalled that the nation’s downstream sector was deregulated in March 2020 with the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, stating that the prices of petroleum products would be determined by prevailing market forces.
Painful times — Minister of State
Specifically, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, had said: “So we want to take the pleasure and we should as a country be ready to take the pain. Today, the NNPC is taking a big hit from this. We all know that there is no provision in the budget for subsidy. So, somewhere down the line, I believe that the NNPC cannot continue to take this blow.
There is no way because there is no provision for it. As a country, let us take the benefits of the higher crude oil prices and I hope we will also be ready to take a little pain on the side of higher product prices.”
MOMAN harps on full deregulation
Nevertheless, speaking virtually on, ‘After Deregulation, What Next?’ in Lagos, February 11, 2021, Mr. Adetunji Oyebanji, Chairman, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, had said: “With a fully deregulated downstream industry, the natural fear and anticipation of Nigerians is the increase in the price of transportation, food items, and the attendant economic hardships. Solutions to these challenges can only emanate from a collective resolve by all stakeholders to face up these challenges together. We must as a national debate and share pragmatic and realistic initiatives to mitigate the impact of a pump price increase that could follow a fully deregulated downstream.
“We stand with Nigeria and Nigerians through this difficult time and support the Federal Government’s promise to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB this year and fully deregulate the petroleum downstream sector. The benefit of a liberalized downstream is the most visible means of growing the economy in the medium to long term.
“Nigeria can become the refining hub of West and Central Africa and eventually the whole of Africa if we stick to this path of investing in new refineries, adopting a cost optimization initiative, building an environment that promotes competition, and creates a sustainable petroleum sector. These actions would lead to increased employment, reduced poverty, and reduced social inequity. We must take advantage of the opportunities brought by the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement (AfCFTA) and fully benefit from our barrels of crude, getting the maximum value it can bring Nigeria.
“MOMAN is calling for a national discourse among all stakeholders including Government, Labour, Civil Society Organizations, the Organized Private Sector, and Operators, not on the merits or demerits of petrol subsidy removal, but on the initiatives that can be taken to ease the impact of the subsidy removal on the most vulnerable in our society.”
He had also said: “The public, which includes the downstream operators, are key stakeholders in the Nigerian oil and gas industry. We believe that as a country, we have and should move beyond the debate on the arguments for the removal of petrol price subsidies. The discussion we should be having today is how best to maximise the benefits of the removal of price controls and subsidies while minimizing the adverse effects of this action on our citizens.”
IMF Queries FG Strategies On Fuel Subsidy, Unemployment, Inflation
The International Monetary Fund has raised the red flag over Nigeria’s resumption of petrol subsidy payments, describing it as injurious to the economy.
It also reiterated the importance of introducing a market-based fuel pricing mechanism and deployment of well-targeted social safety nets to cushion any adverse impact on the poor.
In a report produced after a virtual meeting with Nigerian authorities from June 1 to 8, the IMF also expressed concerns over the rising unemployment and inflation rates, even as it admitted that real Gross Domestic Product was recovering.
The IMF team, led by Jesmin Rahman, further hailed the Central Bank of Nigeria for its efforts at unifying the exchange rate by embracing needed reforms.
The Fund said: “Recent exchange rate measures are encouraging, and further reforms are needed to achieve a fully unified and market-clearing exchange rate.
“The resurfacing of fuel subsidies is concerning, particularly in the context of low revenue mobilisation.
“The Nigerian economy has started to gradually recover from the negative effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Following sharp output contractions in the second and third quarters, GDP growth turned positive in Q4 2020 and growth reached 0.5 percent (y/y) in Q1 2021, supported by agriculture and services sectors.
“Nevertheless, the employment level continues to fall dramatically and, together with other socio-economic indicators, is far below pre-pandemic levels. Inflation slightly decelerated in May but remained elevated at 17.9 percent, owing to high food price inflation. With the recovery in oil prices and remittance flows, the strong pressures on the balance of payments have somewhat abated, although imports are rebounding faster than exports and foreign investor appetite remains subdued resulting in continued FX shortage.
“The incipient recovery in economic activity is projected to take root and broaden among sectors, with GDP growth expected to reach 2.5 percent in 2021. Inflation is expected to remain elevated in 2021, but likely to decelerate in the second half of the year to reach about 15.5 percent, following the removal of border controls and the elimination of base effects from elevated food price levels.”
The IMF also recognised that tax revenue collections were gradually recovering but noted that with fuel subsidies resurfacing, additional spending for COVID-19 vaccines and to address security challenges, the fiscal deficit of the Consolidated Government is expected to remain elevated at 5.5 percent of GDP.
Nigeria-South Africa Trade Hits $2.9bn
The volume of trade between Nigeria and South Africa hit $2.9 billion last year with expectation of it rising further with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
Nigeria’s Consul General, Malik Abdul, in a statement noted that Nigeria accounts for 64 per cent of South Africa’s trade in West Africa and is one of his country’s top three sources of crude oil.
He further added that in 2020, South Africa imported R35 billion ($2.48 billion) worth of goods, predominantly crude oil from Nigeria and exported R6 billion ($425milion) to Nigeria.
He stated: “South Africa is currently among the top 10 per cent of investors in Nigeria, globally and Nigeria is South Africa’s 10th biggest export market in Africa and thirty-second globally. Nigeria accounts for 64 per cent of South Africa’s trade with West Africa and is one of South Africa’s top three sources of crude oil.
“Also, Nigeria in 2020 was South Africa’s top import market in Africa and sixth globally, after China, Germany, USA, India and Saudi Arabia. Over the past year, South Africa imported $2.48 billion worth of goods predominantly crude oil from Nigeria and exported $425 million worth to Nigeria.”
Also, the consulate said his embassy issued a total of 10,341 passports to Nigerian citizens in South Africa between March 2020 and May 2021.
The consul general further said the Mission had 404 unclaimed passports, and advised all those whose passports were processed and pending from August 2020 to come for collection.
Abdul added that the consulate was working to clear all COVID-19 lockdown backlog of applications, urging members of the public to exercise patience while the mission was resolving the backlogs.
On the re-introduction of administrative fees and charges for lost passports, Abdul said that the step was taken to harmonise and standardise consular services following approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja.
The Mission had increased the fees for lost passports from R1,500 to R2,000, and admin charges of R120 for data capturing.
“On this issue, the Mission could not unilaterally impose any charges without headquarters’ approval or consent.
“The admin fees of R120 pertains to all services rendered by the two Missions,” he said.
According to the Nigerian envoy, the decision was taken to remove disparities in all consular services, noting that visa fees have also been harmonised.
On penalty for lost passports, Abdul disclosed that 484 Nigerian passports were reported missing at the mission between August 2020 and May 2021 with request for re-issue.
Abdul said it was discovered that there were criminal undertones and immigration rules infractions associated with the ‘so-called’ lost passport declarations.
“In line with practice in other Missions, there was a need to impose fines to deter people from engaging in such infractions.
“At such an astronomical rate of loss declarations, the option will be to refer such losses to Nigeria for processing.
“This will save the booklet for genuine requests of re-issue and thereby reducing the backlog and pressure on the Mission,” the envoy said.
Abdul disclosed that the consulate had received a directive to embargo processing of lost passports pending further instructions from the headquarters.
The consul general then accused some Nigerian groups in South Africa of, “peddling lies and outright falsehoods” against the Mission and his person.
“These disgruntled elements have gone ahead to incite fellow Nigerians with intent to sabotage the Mission.
“Moreover, a lie and falsehoods often repeated amounts to a propaganda which can be misinterpreted by the gullible and undiscerning as truth,” he said.
NNPC Engages Gas Producers to Improve Power Supply
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has started engaging gas producers across the country in an effort to boost gas supply to power generation companies (Gencos) and subsequently improve electricity supply.
Mr. Yusuf Usman, the Chief Operating Officer, Gas and Power, NNPC, disclosed this in Lagos during his tour of Egbin Power Plc facility on Monday.
Usman, who responded to concerns raised by the Chairman of Egbin Power Plc, Mr. Temitope Shonubi, said the company’s concern on gas supply and transmission restrictions had been noted, adding that the corporation would support it to ensure constant power supply.
“I have listened to all the concerns you raised. An area of concern to me is when you talked about the gas constraints. We are going to support you to make sure that the power supply is steady. We are having a session with gas suppliers in this regard.
“I am aware that works are ongoing in this regard to ensure that all the power we generate is safely evacuated,” Usman said.
Usman, however, said he was impressed by the level of progress being recorded by Egbin, noting that the effort of the company’s management to effect turnaround maintenance at the company through overhaul of the entire system, was commendable.
Usman added: “The visit has been an eye opener for me. We have seen turbines that have been running for over 40 years. We have seen efforts being made by Egbin management to effect a turnaround at the plant through overhaul of the entire system.
“We have also seen the support you have been given to the youths through employment and capacity development opportunities.”
Shonubi, in his remarks, said Egbin Power was planning to increase power generation by 1,900 megawatt.
Shonubi said: “Egbin has 1,320MW capacity. As at the time we took over, the plant was generating 300MW which is abysmal 22 per cent. As at today, our generation capacity has surged and we do 89 per cent.
“We have reached the highest peak of 970MW and we are working hard to ensure sustainability of this feat.
“The 970MW we hit is the highest recorded this year and based on our core value of sustainability, we are working round the clock to make sure that we sustain the gains, which we have made.”
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