Members of the House of Representatives said on Monday that the current pricing template set for premium motor spirit by the Petroleum Products Price Regulatory Agency is “fraudulent.” They insisted that PMS, otherwise known as petrol, should not have cost Nigerians more than N70 per litre.
Lawmakers noted that if unnecessary charges built in by government regulatory agencies were removed, the price of the product would have been below the current post-subsidy N145 per litre.
The revelations came in Abuja as an ad hoc committee of the House on the Review of Pump Price of Petrol opened a public hearing at the National Assembly in Abuja.
The committee, which is chaired by a member from Imo State, Mr. Nnana Igbokwe, grilled PPPRA, Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Customs Service officials and other industry players, including marketers.
For example, lawmakers established that the 30k built into the template by PPPRA as “administrative charge” was needless because the National Assembly also approved a separate budget for the same purpose.
Igbokwe tendered a copy of the 2016 budget as evidence, wherein the sum of N1.3bn was approved for PPPRA to cover the cost of hiring six cargo inspectors.
“In the 2017 budget, which is before us, PPPRA has a proposal of another N500m for regulation, monitoring and supply of petrol. “This budgetary provisions have already taken care of the purpose for which you charge 30k on the template, yet Nigerians continue to bear the burden by paying N145 per litre,” Igbokwe added.
The committee also queried the rationale of the 84k built into the template as port charge paid to the Nigerian Ports Authority. Lawmakers stated that while the money was meant to provide ports services, including dredging to accommodate larger vessels, the services were never provided.
“This has left Nigerians in a situation whereby they still pay for lightening services for smaller vessels that go to Cotonou or Lome to offload products from mother vessels. “PPPRA will then add the cost to the pump price and ask Nigerians to pay,” Igbokwe added.
There was a mild drama at the hearing when the Abuja Liaison Officer of the NPA, Mr. Okon Ephraim, told the committee that the NPA did not know how PPPRA arrived at the 84k payable to his agency.
Ehpraim’s submission angered lawmakers. They immediately summoned the Managing Director of the NPA, Ms. Hadiza Bala-Usman, to appear at the next sitting of the panel.