Lai Mohammed, Information Minister, has described reactions to the recent increase in petrol pump price as mischievous and unnecessary.
Mr Mohammed who made the remark at a joint press conference today with the minister of state for petroleum, Timipre Sylva and Saleh Mamman, Power Minster, added that the long-drawn fuel subsidy regime ended in March 2020, when the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) announced that it had begun fuel price modulation’ and which was in accordance with the prevailing market dynamics, and would respond appropriately to any further oil market development.
Nigerians while receiving the news of the price hike in petrol and electricity tariff early last week, knocked the present administration for finally doing what it criticised and protested against while in opposition.
The Information Minister while speaking at the briefing said the government can no longer subsidise with the present economic challenges, adding that the spike in price is due to the high price of crude oil.
“With the price of crude inching up, the price of petrol locally is also bound to increase, hence the latest price of N162 per litre. If, perchance, the price of crude drops again, the price of petrol will also drop, and the benefits will also be passed on to the consumers,” Mohammed said.
“The angry reactions that have greeted the latest prices of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) are therefore unnecessary and totally mischievous.
“With the low price of crude oil then, the cost of petrol, which is a derivative of crude oil, fell, and the lower pump price was passed on to the consumers to enjoy.
“Gentlemen, the truth of the matter is that subsidizing fuel is no longer feasible, especially under the prevailing economic conditions in the country.
“The government can no longer afford fuel subsidy, as revenues and foreign exchange earnings have fallen by almost 60 per cent, due to the downturn in the fortunes of the oil sector.
“We have also had to take some difficult decisions to stop unsustainable practices that were weighing the economy down, one of such difficult decisions, which we took at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in March – when oil prices collapsed at the height of the global lockdown – was the deregulation of the prices of PMS.
“With 60 per cent less revenues today, we cannot afford the cost. The second danger is the potential return of fuel queues – which has, thankfully, become a thing of the past under this Administration.
“The days in which Nigerians queue for hours and days just to buy petrol, often at very high prices, are gone for good. Of course, there is also no provision for fuel subsidy in the revised 2020 budget, because we just cannot afford it,” he added.