Privatize existing refineries, CSOs tell FG



By Chimezie Godfrey

A group of Civil Society Organizations called privatization of the country’s four refineries in their present state to avoid further revenue loss.

The group in a statement on Tuesday, also urged the federal government to commit to the -subsidy regime by entreating it in law.

It noted that the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic which resulted to global economic downturn led to low crude oil prices, putting Nigeria under immense pressure, 

The group commended the few policy measures government to optimize available revenues, but added that there is also need for government to privatize the existing refineries in the country.

“As a matter of urgent national importance, we strongly support the call privatization of the country’s four refineries in their present condition to avoid further revenue losses. 

“We encourage the government to adopt favorable fiscal terms that bring about a renewed investors’ confidence and also help fast track the 29+ refineries, which still have valid operating licenses.

“We enjoin the Presidency and the Minister of State of Petroleum Resources, Department of Petroleum Resources, and PPPRA to publicly support the declarations made GMD of NNPC on the removal of fuel subsidy through an official public statement on April 8, 2020 signed signed GMD-NNPC in various media appearances in recent times.

“We entreat the government to lay out defined processes and regulatory guidelines to support the announced removal of fuel subsidy. These be pushed forward and announced Presidency and the Minister of Petroleum Resources to give the policy an official seal of affirmation to all Nigerians that we are not in another false expedition,” the group stressed.

The coalition called on the Federal Government to commit to the sustainability of the -subsidy regime by entreating it in law, either through a -alone legislation, or through appropriate clauses integrated into the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) will allow sustainability of the -subsidy regime.

It urged the government to clarify the role of the Petroleum Support Fund in the new -subsidy regime. Clarity is required about how that fund is managed, whether the over-recovery sums were deposited there and how they are expected to be spent. 

According to the group, government implement the Orosanye Report and/or transition the PPPRA and PEF into new roles to ensure the sustainability of the proposed ‘non-subsidy policy’.

It also called for repeal of the PPPRA and PEF(M)B Act and transition them into efficient and competent institutions to support the reforms encapsulated in the proposed PIB are possible options to consider.

“We urge government to prepare for a post-price regulation era by prioritizing consumer protection to ensure that when the downstream sector of the petroleum industry is liberalized, the interests of the people would not suffer exploitation in the hands of profiteering marketer.

“We suggest anti-trust or competition propositions using the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2019.We encourage the government to consider providing varied options for Nigerians in terms systems in the country when inevitably, increases in price of crude oil increases result in the rise of the price of refined petroleum products.

“We suggest that the NNPC as the National Oil Company not be given any advantage, whether comparative or competitive, over other petroleum products marketers in terms of access to foreign exchange to handle their importation of products activities to create a level playing field for all players. 

“If the NNPC must remain a player in the market, it must strive to operate under the same conditions and rules as other players in the sector regulated only by the prevailing market and competition,” the coalition stated. 

The  CSOs include CISLAC, BUDGIT, SPACES FOR CHANGE, NNF, YOUTH FORUM OF EITI, CSEA, and Centre LSD.

Others are NNRC, CSSC, MEDIA INITIATIVE FOR TRANSPARENCY IN EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRIES, ORDER PAPER, WiE, PWYP, CODE, and ANEEJ.