NECA seeks full deregulation of petroleum sector
THE Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has described the downward review of petroleum price from N97 per litre to N87 per litre by the Federal Government as a “right action within a wrong policy framework”.
In a statement made available to The Guardian on Monday, the Director General of NECA, Olusegun Oshinowo said by reducing the price of fuel, the Federal Government has demonstrated its sensitivity to the welfare of Nigerians.
However, he urged the government “to do the needful by coming out boldly and courageously to inform the Nigerian populace that it has deregulated the downstream operations of the Oil & Gas sector.’’
According to him, the time for full deregulation of the Nation’s downstream oil sector is ripe giving the recent fall of crude oil price at the international market.
“We should, however, remind ourselves that this action by government is begging for the more fundamental issue of appropriate policy framework that will promote investment in the downstream sector of the Oil & Gas and put a stop to the embarrassing and shameful practice of importation of PMS”.
“Our expectation therefore, is that government would seize the opportunity of the current decline in the price of crude oil to commence implementation of the policy on deregulation of the downstream sector of the Oil & Gas. This is a unique timing the government cannot afford to miss as full implementation of deregulation, which in time past had led to price increase and reaction by the labour movement by the way of industrial action, does not have any negative effect on the masses.
“We are indeed surprised that government’s announcement was limited to just the reduction in the price of fuel (Premium Motor spirit) as one would have expected a far more holistic announcement of a new policy thrust of deregulation of the downstream sector and privatization of the four (4) government refineries, which have now become a sink-hole.
Besides, he urged the government not to play politics with the issue, adding that the full implementation of the policy now will not have a damaging effect on the populace, giving the current price of crude oil.
“We do appreciate the fact that election is around the corner and the government is being unusually cautious on the possible backlash which announcement of deregulation of the downstream sector of the Oil & Gas could have on its electoral fortunes.
“We, however, do not share the sentiment, giving the fact that this is one moment when such a policy announcement would not have any damaging impact on the populace”, said Oshinowo.
Explaining further, he said: “it is a common thing for government to weigh economic imperatives against political exigencies at moments of political engagement and political process as we are currently experiencing.
“Government is more likely to accord priority to political exigencies while relegating economic imperatives to the background particularly if the fall-out of the economic imperatives will undermine public perception of the government. The issue, however, is that the government is not faced with that choice under the current circumstance as the economy stands to gain from the deregulation policy”.