The Federal Government’s decision to fully remove subsidy from petrol will save the country ₦1trillon annually and create massive jobs, Mr Timipre Sylva, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources has said.
Sylva, who said this on Thursday, while speaking with newsmen in Abuja, said that beginning from October, Nigerians “can now convert cars using petroleum to gas, which will be cheaper’’.
“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.
“Already, we have taken off the budgetary provision for the subsidy which is about N500 billion in the budget.
“Also, we have taken off the excess forex price that special rate that was given to NNPC which also came at a cost.
“So, all the money that we used to defend the Naira at that time to subsidise the dollar will now be freed up for development.
“I believe that this discussion around subsidy has been a vexed issue that has captured the imagination of this country for a long time now,’’ the minister said.
According to him, successive administrations have attempted to deregulate but sometimes, some administrations lacked the political will and at other times, the time was not good for it.
“And why did I say that time was not good for it? Does that imply the time is good for it now? The problem around deregulation is that people must understand first that the product we are talking about is a derivative of crude oil.
“It is refined from crude oil. Therefore, it has a direct relationship with the price of crude oil. If the price of crude oil goes up, then you expect that it would reflect in the price of the derivative.
“So, the best time to achieve this we looked at was the time when crude oil prices are low so that Nigerians will get the benefit of those low prices,’’ he said.
The minister recalled that in March, when the Federal Government announced the deregulation, the prices were low and that advantage was transferred to the consumer.
“So, we brought down the price of petrol. The unfortunate thing is that when we brought down the price of petrol, nobody reacted in the market place. The prices were the same.
“Nobody reduces their prices because the price of petrol had reduced. Even bus fares, taxi fares were the same. It did not go down when we reduce the pump price of petrol.
“We thought that those people in the market; the transport drivers and transport owners would reduce their price. But nobody reduces their prices,’’ the minister said.
According to him, anytime there is even a kobo increase in the pump price of a product, you see that people will increase their prices triple fold and fourfold.
Sylva said that the Federal Government was planning an alternative fuel to give the deregulation a human face.
“To give it (deregulation) a human face, we are introducing an alternative fuel. We are giving autogas. Gas will now become fuel for our cars. This programme will be rolled out within the next month.
“So, if you go to a filling station and you convert your car to dual capability or dual fuel, then you drive into a typical filling station, you will find gas LPG, you find CNG and NLG being sold.
“So, if you look at the price of PMS versus the price of gas and you think that gas is cheaper which of course, it is going to be cheaper.
“Gas will even be cheaper than PMS as it is today. So you see that we are also giving an alternative to the ordinary Nigerians,’’ the minister said.