The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC,yesterday denied meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari to hike the pump price of petrol from N145 to N150 per litre.
It insisted that the price still remains within the N141 to N145 per litre band, adding that it has over 1.6 billion litres of petrol in stock that would last the country for the next 45 days.
The Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs, Garba Deen Muhammad, said: “NNPC is not empowered statutorily to tinker with the pricing template of petroleum products as erroneously reported in some national dailies.”
Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has carpeted NNPC over the N4 increase in price of petrol sold at its mega-filling stations.
Speaking after receiving an award at an event organised by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) in Abuja, he said it was wrong for the oil firm to do so.
NNPC has been selling fuel at N141, but on November. 3, it jerked the price by N4 to match the government’s benchmark of N145.
Reacting, Kachikwu said: “First, I am not aware that the NNPC has increased price. I need to look into that. It is a bit of surprise for me, because there are processes in doing this. If they have done that, it means they are doing it wrongly. Let me find out what the facts are,” saying the increase could be as a result of foreign exchange differentiation.
He said there are areas within government controlled aspects, such as payments to the Ministry of Transportation and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) that were foreign currency denominated.
“Having said that, the reality is that what we did at the point where we did some liberalisation was to enable the free market float the price.
“Obviously, as you look at forex differentiations and all that, it would impact. The worst thing you could do is to go back to an era where we basically were fixing prices.
“What we ought to be doing was watching the prices, making sure that they are not taking advantage of the common man; making sure that the template is respected.
“One of the things I think we had hoped to do, which we should still do before we embark on any price increase, is to work on those templates.”
He, however, promised to discuss with industry operators.
“Those who are investing must be able to predict the pricing methodologies, the pricing consequences and the actions, so as to be able to justify their investments.
“At the end of the day, I think PPPRA is the one that has the authority to say it is time the template justified some level of movement, otherwise, you have a crisis of individual decisions on pricing,” he said.
Nonetheless, the NNPC said the price adjustment in its downstream facilities from N141 to N145 per litre was still within the price band of N135 and N145 per litre approved on 11th May this year by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), the statutory body in charge of petroleum products pricing.
It assured marketers and motorists of its readiness to continue to play its statutory role of being the supplier of last resort and ensuring energy security for the nation, insisting that there was no time its management met with Buhari to push for a hike in the pump price of petrol to N150 per litre.