The Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, said this during a meeting in Abuja between a government delegation and labour leaders over the recent increase in the price of petrol.
KanyiDaily recalls that after the price of petrol rose from N145 per litre to about N160 per litre across Nigeria, the government said the increase was due to the deregulation of the downstream sector and the removal of subsidy on petrol.
However, while speaking at the meeting on Tuesday, September 15, 2015, Mr Sylva said the government only partially deregulated the oil sector, noting that a full deregulation would have led to further price increase.
“So today, we can say yes we have deregulated, but we can also tell you here now, we have not fully deregulated because of the concerns that the government have for Nigerians,” Sylva told the labour leaders.
“Why have we kept it at N161? Frankly speaking, let us face it and this is what I will tell you. One of the things that the president considered; he said if you take it to the full scale of deregulation, today, prices should have been around N183 because you all know this.
“It is time for Nigerians to face reality and do the right thing. What is deregulation going to do? It is going to free up a lot more money. At least from the very beginning, it will save us up to a trillion and more every year,” he said
Speaking on why government partially deregulated the sector, the minister said the government was spending too much on subsidy.
“The federal government spent N10.4 trillion on petrol subsidy between 2016 and 2019, while the country was losing N1 billion daily to fuel subsidy between 2016-2019,” he said.
The minister said government’s current intervention was in the purchase of foreign exchange for the importation of petrol. He said importers, mainly the NNPC and its subsidiaries, were still buying dollars from the government at about N391 to a dollar contrary to the prevailing market price of about N450.
Meanwhile, the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) has rejected the recent increase in fuel and electricity tariff, threatening nationwide strike and national protest from Wednesday, September 23, 2020.