The NNPCL’s Group Chief Executive Officer, Mele Kyari, on Thursday explained that fuel subsidy is not sustainable in the country.
Speaking to journalists after a meeting with the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, at the party secretariat in Abuja, Kyari announced that the administration of President Bola Tinubu had concluded arrangements to have one of the four refineries repaired and operating at an optimal level before the end of the year.
The NNPCL boss argued that it was no longer justifiable to continue subsidising the commodity given the high opportunity cost the Federal Government was suffering from funding it.
Kyari, who was received by the APC chairman and members of the National Working Committee, confessed that the country could no longer sustain the expensive subsidy regime.
According to him, over 38 per cent of the total fuel distributed in the country was consumed by Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Rivers.
Kyari explained that following the hike in pump price and the resultant effect on commercial fare, the president was working out some palliative measures to ease the pains of Nigerians.
He also added that there was an ongoing process of rehabilitation to ensure one of the refineries was ready this year.
Kyari lamented that despite its N2.8tn indebtedness to the NNPCL, the Federal Government had yet to release funds for 2022 and 2023 subsidies.
He said, “There was a subsidy in 2022 but in 2023, not a single naira was provided for the purpose. And ultimately while we held back our fiscal obligations, we still have a net balance of over N2.8tn that the federation should have given back to the NNPC.
‘’For any company, when you have negative N2.8tn, there is no company in the whole of Africa that will lend to you. You cannot have receivables. The provision of subsidy is there but absolutely there is no funding for it. It means it is only on paper. It doesn’t exist.
“We can no longer bear it. If we continue, we will run into defaults and the default of NNPC is the default of Nigeria. Once NNPC goes into default and liquidity, it affects every borrowing done by the country, even the sub-nationals. Your lenders will come back to you and say your country can no longer pay.
‘’The only way you can stop this is to stop this conversation around subsidy. It is why Mr President announced that the subsidy is gone. In 24 hours, the bond market appreciated. It is nothing else other than the statement around subsidy and balancing of the apex market. These two elements are a major concern for every investor all over the world. Every partner that we have is worried about.’’
Kyari acknowledged that the price increase would trigger inflation, noting that the market forces would determine what happens subsequently.
He noted, “Before today, the average subsidy level was N400bn every month. There is nothing anybody can do about it. There is this common argument that the masses will suffer. I agree that once you increase prices of this proportion, as it has happened, it will have an impact on inflation. There is no doubt about it. The market determines what happens next. Even inflation in many countries goes up when you have economic indices become difficult.
“Mr President’s target is to have seven per cent growth of GDP. You cannot have it if you have this disruption in your demands and consumption pattern. Very many of us here have at least two cars in our houses including myself. When you buy fuel of 100 litres in an SUV, you are literally subsidising three litres with N100 for all of us.
‘’Even the consumption itself is clearly skewed in locations and states where the level of economic activities are higher than the others. It is very understandable and that is why people can afford it in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Kano. So over 38 per cent of the total fuel distributed in this country ends up in these places. All the other parts of the country suffer for it and you can see the relativity.’’
Kyari submitted that the price at which petrol was being sold now is the current market price of the commodity.
‘’The price you are seeing today at our stations is the current market price of the commodity and what this means is that prices in the market can go down at any time and the market will adjust itself. The beauty of this is that there will be a new entrance because oil marketing companies now will want to invest, they have been reluctant to come in because of the subsidy,’’ he stated.
With the latest development, the NNPCL chief said the market would regulate itself, adding that oil marketing companies could now import products or buy locally-produced ones and take them into the market and sell at commercial prices.
He added, ‘’You would see competition even with NNPCL, and by law, the company can’t do more than 30 per cent of the market going forward. So competition will surely come in and definitely, the market will regulate the price itself. It is an instantaneous price and in two weeks, you will see the adjustment that is happening in many jurisdictions.
‘’But ultimately, you would see changes in price downwards and that is very likely. Efficiency will come in and every lacuna in the sector will be taken out because of the new situation.
‘’The current price is not fixed and will surely change and we did it to announce various prices depending on our cost by location and by the realities around us knowing full well that the NNPCL is the single supplier of the market today and we are seeing that exit coming very quickly. There will be no monopoly and we will not continue to be the only supplier.’’