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Timipre Sylva, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, on Monday said the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPC, is selling petrol at a loss due to its mandate from the Federal Government as regards petrol subsidy.
The minister’s remarks came on the heels of oil marketers’ claim that the supply hitches currently being experienced in the petroleum sector that has resulted in fuel scarcity could linger till June, based on the government’s plan to end petrol subsidy in that month.
Sylva stated this in Abuja at the resumption of the scorecard series (2015-2023) of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Recall that Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning had last week stated the Federal Government had budgeted about N3.6tn for fuel subsidy till June 2023.
The petroleum minister insisted that subsidy had been a burden to the country, but admitted that it was a mandate on NNPC which had made the oil firm to continue selling PMS at a loss.
He said, “The management of the supply situation under this subsidy regime is not easy. We must all agree that so much money is being burnt in our cars, but somehow, we have to put funds to continue to keep the country wet.
“Sometimes if you really think deeply you begin to wonder what magic we are doing to be able to keep this country wet consistently. Considering that you buy something, let’s say for N10, and you are to sell it at a loss.
“And then you are expected to go back to buy the same thing, and come back again to sell it at a loss. So at every point in time, you are looking for more money to continue to buy it, because you’re mandated to sell it at a loss.”
Sylva added, “So if you are a businessman, look at it from this perspective, that you are now in the business where you are mandated to sell at a loss to the public. That is not an easy job, I must tell you.”
Responding to a question on how he would feel when buying petrol at N300/litre, Sylva said “If you ask me how I will feel as a private citizen to buy petrol at N300/litre, sadly, I will say I won’t feel bad, knowing the actual situation. And if you compare Nigeria to other countries, you will understand,” he stated.
The minister added, “When you convert the N300/litre that you are talking about to other currencies, then you will understand. A lot of you travel to the United Kingdom or the United States, how much do you buy petroleum products there? Even in Arab communities that produce crude oil.”