Organised labour in the petroleum sector has kicked against any further increase in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).
The joint body of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (NUPENGASSAN) in its presentation to the ad-hoc committee on the review of pump price of PMS of House of Representatives, yesterday in Abuja, said the timing was wrong.
The union in the presentation at the public hearing holding between January 23 and 24, said it believes this was not the right time to review the pricing template of PMS considering the present challenge of scarcity of forex.
According to the oil workers, the current economic situation would not accommodate such review. “The economy is biting hard on all Nigerians and any attempt to further review the template will impoverish ordinary Nigerians as the additional price will be transferred to end users of the product. Such review will further impact negatively on the economy, which the government is currently trying to pull out of recession,” the unions stated.
It equally reasoned that any attempt to increase the price will drive up the inflation index as PMS is a stable product in Nigeria.
According to The Sun the union explained that Nigeria depends on PMS for not only transportation but also to generate power for either home or industrial use, especially the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), which can jump start the nation’s economy.
It maintained that it would not support any increase bearing in mind that the government failed to fulfil its promise to organised labour when the price was adjusted last year.
It added: “As major stakeholders in the oil and gas industry, we supported the review of the pricing template that moved the price of PMS to N145 per litre on the condition that the government will put in place some palliative measures and reinvest the gains from that price regime to cushion effects of the increase.
“Some of the palliative measures include provision of transportation system, which include rehabilitation of the rail system, good and motorable road networks, means of mass transportation, among others; review of workers’ wages to meet the reality of the increment; rejuvenation of the power sector for efficient and effective electricity supply to enhance performance of the real sector, especially the SMEs and other manufacturing companies that are affected by the erratic power supply and provision of good healthcare system.”
NUPENGASSAN said the marketers are proposing N165 per litre to cover the cost of forex required for products importation, as the free fall of the naira against the dollar is seriously impacting on their ability to import fuel.
“They argued that in May 2016, when the price of petrol was reviewed from N97 to N145 per litre, the exchange rate was based on N285 to a dollar, while since June 2016 till date, the exchange rate has been fluctuating between N305 and N490 to a dollar,” the statement read.
The unions, however, said that government should rather look inward for the solution to the lingering and persistent pricing problems by enhancing local refinery.
The unions stated: “This is key to the development of the downstream sector and the deregulation policy of the government. The Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, said some time ago that the nation’s four refineries in Port Harcourt 1 & 2, Kaduna and Warri had attained a combined daily production of about 6.76 million litres of petrol. This is still not what is expected from the local refineries.”