The Federal Government has shed light on why petroleum marketers are not allowed to determine pump prices.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, explained to journalists in Abuja that there was no argument as to whether the government had fully liberalised the downstream sector, adding that petrol was too strategic to be left for those who are mostly interested in profits.
He said: “What we announced was already deregulation. But as we all know, petrol and petroleum products are very strategic commodities. So, you cannot allow the price of this commodity to be determined wholly by the marketers.
“It’s the government’s responsibility to protect consumers because anywhere in the world if you want to buy anything, there is the recommended retail price. The consumer protection agency will fix a price so that no one will profiteer inordinately from the people.
“If we allow marketers to go ahead and fix prices as they like, it will not be good for our people because this commodity is very central to the lives of our people. That’s why you have a regulator for that sector that will determine the price, bearing in mind what it has cost the marketers to land the product, allowing for some profit for them, making sure the consumer is also protected.”
The minister noted that, for instance, since the fall in the international prices of crude oil in the international market, the marketers had refused to slash the prices of diesel and other products.
Sylva added: “If the PPPRA does not work with the marketers, they will profiteer from the people. Look at one problem we have been having with the marketers. For example, today we have brought down the price of PMS because the landing cost came down.
“But the landing cost of diesel should have also come down, but the marketers have refused to bring the price down. We have been having a running battle with them to bring their prices down because their landing cost has also reduced.”