Dr Billy Gillis-Harry, the national president of the Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria (PETROAN), has asked the federal government to invest at least N12 trillion to improve in-country petrol refining capacity before implementing deregulation policy.
Report has it that Gillis-Harry made the request on Thursday in a Channels Television interview monitored by newsmen.
He said, the government must fix Portharcourt and Warri refineries before it embarks on the fuel subsidy removal.
It will be recalled that the federal government had hinted at plans to remove fuel subsidies before June to mop up revenue.
But, the president of PETROAN insisted that the country’s local refining capacity should be increased before the petrol product is deregulated.
He, however, backed the deregulation of fuel in Nigeria because it would benefit all Nigerians.
According to Gillis-Harry, deregulation would end the pegging fuel regime.
He said the petrol price could reach N700-N1000 per litre if the product is deregulated.
He further added that the federal government must not be involved in the fuel price pegging.
The pegging of the fuel price is regulation, de-pegging is deregulation; we are all saying deregulate, everybody or at least Nigerians who understand the sector, agree that deregulation is the way to go.
Government should not be involved in pegging prices because when you do that, you are regulating.
We must improve and fast-track our in-country production capacity; that is the most important thing to be done before the deregulatory policy. It is not rocket science if we put twelve trillion naira into redirecting our focus into ensuring that production in-country is improved. Once we can have Portharcourt and Warri refinery working, this should impact the price of petrol products in Nigeria, he stated.
The Nigerian government has admitted to colossal spending on fuel subsidies since the inception of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in 2015.
According to Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, the country spends at least N250 billion monthly on fuel subsidies, suggesting its removal before June 2023.
Investigation revealed that the federal government under the Buhari administration had spent about $2.9 billion to rehabilitate existing refineries that have remained moribund.
In March 2021, $1.5 billion was approved for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery; still, $1.4 million in funds were approved in August 2021 by the federal government to rehabilitate the Warri and Kaduna refineries.
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