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Labour to govt: It will be insensitive to hike fuel price

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Labour UnionLabour on Monday said it would amount to a betrayal of trust for the Federal Government to okay another petrol price hike.

It said talks were still ongoing with the government in the aftermath of the last price increase.

Depot owners have shut operations, claiming they had no products.

But the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has debunked the claim.

Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) National Vice President, Alhaji Abubakar Maigandi, said some of the depot owners closed shop because of the speculated likely increase in pump price.

Last night, the price of Bent Crude, which is Nigeria’s specification, inched near $60 a barrel, selling at $59.34, having gained 0.85 per cent. This raised fears of an imminent pump price rise.

But the Pipeline Products Marketing Company (PPMC) has not announce a new dealer price for marketers.

Maigandi told The Nation that depot owners had raised their price from N148 to N155.

“Depot owners are shutting down because of the expected increase in the price of petrol,” he said, adding that IPMAN had not directed its members to increase pump price since the association was not sure that depot owners adjusted their prices legally.

Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Deputy President Joe Ajaero, said any decision to raise petrol price at this time would be the height of disregard for the spirit of consultation.

Ajaero said the Organised Labour and the Federal Government were still at the negotiating table following the November 2020 petrol price increase.

Following the uproar generated by the last increase, the government and Labour set up a Technical Committee on PMS Pricing headed by Onochie Anyaoku, a former Executive Director, Refineries Operations and Petrol Pricing in the NNPC.

Labour is represented in the technical committee by the President of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, Festus Osifo.

Last week, the committee submitted its report. Labour requested for two weeks break to conduct an independent investigation on the report.

Ajaero said the NLC fixed February 17 for the Central Working Committee (CWC) and National Executive Council (NEC) of the congress to consider the report independently.

He said: “We are still at the negotiating table and at the last meeting, we adjourned for three weeks to consult with our principals. Based on that, the NLC fixed their CWC and NEC meeting.

“The Secretary to the Government of the Federation Boss Mustapha said the government team needed to consult their principals as well.

“So if they have suddenly or unilaterally increased the pump price of petrol products while we are still talking, that is the height of disregard for the meeting and spirit of tripartism and consultation.

“Labour will have a common position which I can’t predict now. It will be unfair practice.”

The cost of petroleum products is one of the components of the total landing cost of petrol in the pricing template of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).

On Thursday, stakeholders in the industry made a veiled reference to the plan to increase petrol prices when the Federal Government said it was waiting for the outcome of the meetings of the Organised Labour before raising the freight cost from N7.51 to N9.11 per litre.

Freight cost is also one of the components of the total landing cost in the agency’s pricing template.

The NNPC has, however, assured Nigerians that it has sufficient stock of petrol.

Its Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Dr. Kennie Obateru, said: “We do have sufficient petrol. I can confirm the availability to you tomorrow (today).” He said marketers can get the products from NNPC depots.

Asked whether there was an upward review in the price of the product, he said: “PPPRA is the one to answer that.”

The Executive Secretary, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) Clement Isong, said that the PPMC has enough stock.

“As far as I know, PPMC has a stock of the product. There is no shortage of product.

“I haven’t heard of anything about the price change. I will check and get back to you,” Isong said.

When he called back 15 minutes later, Isong said he was certain that the PPMC had not changed the petrol price.

He admitted that the imaginary increase of pump price had been rife for some time, saying such speculation could spur panic buying and hoarding.

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