Major fuel marketers in the country have said the expected reduction in diesel and kerosene prices has not materialised because of their inability to access foreign exchange for importation in recent weeks.
The PUNCH reported on Monday that the pump prices of the two products had yet to reflect the collapse of global crude oil prices despite the deregulation of the products by the Federal Government.
The pump price of petrol, which is still being regulated by the government, was reduced to N125 per litre from N145 per litre on March 18.
A new price band of N123.50-N125 per litre was also announced last week.
Our correspondent gathered that kerosene, which is still used by many Nigerians for cooking, is being sold for N230 per litre in parts of Lagos, while diesel prices ranged from N210 to N240 per litre.
Data obtained from the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency showed that the landing cost of diesel was N121.54 per litre on March 6, while the indicative open market price stood at N133.36 per litre.
The Chairman, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr Adetunji Oyebanji, told our correspondent that if marketers had free access to forex, they could have brought in cheaper products, and prices would have come down much faster.
He said, “In a deregulated market, generally, when prices are going up, they tend to go faster than coming down. But what determines it more or less is the ability to get supplies quickly.
“But now people are selling their old stock and they cannot get forex; talk to bankers – how easy is it for people to get $10m to import a cargo of diesel now? So, that is the problem.”
He said if not for the downturn in economic activities in the country, demand for the products would have been higher and marketers would have sold all their old stock.
Oyebanji said, “If people can have access to forex and bring in products, cheaper products would have come and people will be forced to reduce their prices.
“If we don’t get forex, government will have to know how it will provide forex or it will give it to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to import the products.”
Commenting on the statement by the NNPC Group Managing Director, Mallam Mele Kyari, that petrol subsidy had gone forever, the MOMAN boss described the development as “a step in the right direction”.
“However, we need to back that up with appropriate legislation. The word ‘deregulation’ has not been used; is that where we are going or this is just a first step?” he said.
According to Oyebanji, if there is full deregulation, entities such as the Petroleum Trust Fund and the PPPRA will no longer be in existence.
“It will be helpful if all the details are known and we all understand where we are going clearly,” he added.
In a related development, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria has lamented the inability of its members to access banks to deposit cash received from customers.
IPMAN said in a statement, “Many commercial banks refused to open, even for non-cash transactions, which has affected stock replenishment for IPMAN members nationwide.
“The intervention of the Federal Ministry of Finance and the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria is required at this national trying period.”