Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Friday in Lagos, said the recent increase in the pump price of petrol to N145 per litre, would create additional 600,000 jobs.
He also said the increase, which has already induced a sharp rise in the price of goods and services, will bring an end to the recurrent petrol scarcity and ensure steady availability across the country.
According to him, the action would reduce smuggling, diversion of petroleum products, improve domestic supply, cause labour market stability and add 600,000 jobs to the job profile of the country through new investments in refineries and the retail chain.
The Minister spoke at the inauguration of the Advertisers Association of Nigeria, ADVAN Marketers’ Conference in Lagos.
He insisted that the decision was in the best interest of the masses adding that only complete deregulation would make for availability of products.
“It will end the recurrent fuel scarcity by ensuring product availability across the country, reduce hoarding, smuggling and diversion of products substantially, improves fuel supply situation through private sector participation, creates labour market stability, as this will potentially create additional 600,000 jobs through new investments in refineries and retails and prevents potential loss of 400,000 jobs in existing investments”, he said.
“I can tell you”, he stated further, “that that decision is inevitable, if we are to end the crippling fuel scarcity that has enveloped the country, ensure the availability of the products and end the suffering that our people have been subjected to”.
According to him, “with the drastic fall in the price of crude oil, which is the nation’s main foreign exchange earner, there has also been a drastic reduction in the amount of foreign exchange available. The unavailability of forex and the inability to open letters of credit have forced marketers to stop product importation and imposed over 90 percent supply on the NNPC since October 2015, in contrast to the past where NNPC supplied 48 percent of the national requirement.”
The Minister argued that with the absence of available forex lines to continue massive importation of PMS, it was clear that unless immediate action was taken to liberalize the downstream sector, petrol queues will persist and diversion worsen.
He noted that the liberalization of petrol supply will allow marketers, and any Nigerian entity willing to supply PMS, to source for their forex and import.
Mohammed said also that the N145 was lower than what Nigerians were made to pay for petrol adding that some paid between N150 and N300 to buy a litre of petrol as distributable volume dropped due to smuggling and diversion of products.
He also said the removal of the subsidy was in line with the 2016 budget as no provision was made for it in the budget.