Labour to PPPRA: You’re alone on full petrol price deregulation

* Insists no Board meeting held to decide on deregulation of petrol price

* Consumers to bear the brunt of unregulated pricing regime ─Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson

Emmanuel Akosile | ConsumerConnect

The apparent dust raised by the recent fuel price deregulation by Nigeria’s Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) is yet to settle, as the Organised Labour, one of the critical members of the Board of the PPPRA, has disowned the purported deregulation of price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise known as petrol and the commencement of a market-based pricing system.

Report says Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, representative of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on the PPPRA Board and immediate past General Secretary of NLC, in a letter dated June 6 to the Executive Secretary of PPPRA, insisted that no meeting of the Board was held either physically or virtually to decide on full deregulation of petrol price (the downstream sector of the nation’s petroleum industry).

Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson

According to Dr. Ozo-Eson, “as a member of the Board of PPPRA, this came as a rude shock because at no time has this matter been presented to the Board for consideration, deliberation or even for information.

“What use is the Board if such weighty decision can be adopted, announced and implemented without the knowledge, input or deliberation of the Board?

“Given the above, it is wrong to ascribe the policy or decision you announced to the PPPRA.

“As you are aware, the constitution of the Board was set up in law to ensure adequate representation of all the stakeholders to ensure that decisions and policy recommendations had the benefit of the inputs of all stakeholders.”

The NLC chief said: “The Board is, therefore, the forum for stakeholders’ discussion and decision. To compound our disbelief, we have reviewed your statement, placed on your website, announcing the introduction of this policy.

“The statement, purportedly issued on March 20 is said to have removed the cap on the price of PMS effective that same date.

“Interestingly, the Board has had three meetings (one physical and two virtual) since that date and at none of these meetings was this policy presented to or deliberated upon by the Board.

“Interestingly, you have thrice issued pricing guidelines stipulating caps on PMS prices since then.

“If the management of the agency received directives from somewhere else, it should be honest enough to so admit and ascribe. A policy decision of the agency can only emerge from the deliberations of the governing board of the agency.”

The NLC contended that “while we were open to objective review of some of the underlying cost on the template such as increased labour costs associated with the new national minimum wage and other realities, it became obvious that marketers and some other operators were seeking an across-the-board upward review to ensure that prices were kept artificially high.”

According to the Labour union, “your policy on PMS will place their two crushing knees permanently on the necks of poor Nigerians and the Nigerian economy.

“Please, please, please, we cannot breathe! The exploitative opportunities in the case of PMS will be much graver than those of diesel, given the more pervasive use and lower price elasticity of demand of the former.

“Unregulated pricing, in an import-based regime, will be at the expense of the consumers.”

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