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Global oil price surge put pressure on government to remove daily petrol subsidy of N8.28b

 

—-NNPC , PPPRA disagree on exact figures of petrol subsidy.

–as PMS landing cost hits N264.65/Litre

The rapid rise in global oil prices to record highs has pushed the subsidy cost being incurred by the Federal Government to N8.28bn daily.

This has therefore put pressure on the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC) to remove subsidy on the product which analysts said is consuming more than 50 per cent of its remittances to the Federation Account.

The data also revealed that without subsidy, petrol would be selling for about N300 per litre as the landing cost of the product rose to N276.94 per litre last Friday from N249.42 per litre in July 30.

The Economic Confidential had reported on September 28 that the NNPC spent a total of N905.27bn on petrol subsidy from January to August, citing data from the corporation.

The subsidy, which the NNPC prefers to call ‘value shortfall’ or ‘under-recovery, resurfaced in January this year as the government left the pump price of petrol unchanged at N162-N165 per litre despite the increase in oil prices.

President Muhammadu Buhari has said the federal government’s expenses on petrol subsidy has eaten into the revenue that should have been available to fund the 2021 budget.

He spoke on Thursday when he presented the 2022 appropriation bill at the National Assembly.

He said the government was forced to suspend a further increase in the pump price of petrol due to opposition from the labour unions and other stakeholders.

“The National Assembly will recall that in March 2020, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency(PPPRA) announced that the price of petrol would henceforth be determined by market forces.

“However, as the combination of rising crude oil prices and exchange rate combined to push the price above the hitherto regulated price of 145 Naira per litre, opposition against the policy of price deregulation hardened on the part of labour unions in particular.

“Government had to suspend further upward price adjustments while engaging labour on the subject. This petrol subsidy significantly eroded revenues that should have been available to fund the budget”, observed President Buhari.

Responding to an enquiry on whether NNPC would continue to shoulder the financial burden of petrol subsidy, the corporation’s Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs, Garba-Deen Muhammad, replied, “NNPC has made no secret about the burden it is shouldering.”

The Federal Government had in March 2020 removed petrol subsidy after reducing the pump price of the product to N125 per litre from N145 following the crash in oil prices.

The NNPC, which has been the sole importer of petrol into the country in recent years, has been bearing the subsidy cost since it resurfaced.

The price of crude oil, which accounts for a large chunk of the final cost of petrol, has continued to rise in recent months, with Brent, the international oil benchmark, closing at $82.39 on October 8, up from $77.72 on July 30. It increased further to $83.94 per barrel as of 5:05 pm Nigerian time on Monday.

The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency(PPPRA) had in March this year released a pricing template that indicated the guiding prices for the month.

The template, which showed that the petrol pump price was expected to range from N209.61 to N212.61 per litre, was greeted with widespread public outcry and was later deleted by the agency from its website.

It was based on an average oil price of $62.22 per barrel, and the landing cost of petrol was put at N189.61 per litre.

Based on the PPPRA template and Platts data, the expected pump price of petrol rose to N299.94 per litre on October 8 from N272.34 per litre on July 30.

The expected retail price of N299.94 per litre and the current pump price of N162 per litre indicate a subsidy of N137.94 per litre as of October 8, compared to N110.34 per litre on July 30.

With daily petrol consumption put at about 60 million litres by the NNPC and a subsidy of N N137.94 per litre, daily subsidy increased to N8.28bn last Friday from N6.62bn on July 30.

The rising price of crude oil pushed the cost of petrol quoted on Platts to $822.75 per metric tonne (N254.25 per litre, using the I&E rate of N414.40/$1) on October 8 from $748.50 per MT (N228.91 per litre) on July 30.

The freight cost increased to $26.77 per MT (N8.27 per litre) last Friday from an average of $21.63 per MT (N6.62 per litre) used by the PPPRA in its March template.

Other cost elements that make up the landing cost include lightering expenses (N4.81), Nigerian Ports Authority charge (N2.49), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency charge (N0.23), jetty throughput charge (N1.61), storage charge (N2.58), and financing (N2.17).

The pump price is the sum of the landing cost, wholesale margin (N4.03), admin charge (N1.23), transporters allowance (N3.89), bridging fund (N7.51), marine transport average (N0.15), and retailer margin (N6.19).

While marketers have continued to stress the need to allow market forces to determine the pump price of petrol and do away with subsidy, it remains uncertain whether the discussions between the Federal Government and labour unions will lead to the deregulation of petrol prices.

Meanwhile, both the NNPC and PPPRA have disagreed on the actual amount which the government is pending as a petroleum subsidy.

According to a source in the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), there exists a difference between the agency’s cost and that of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

A subsidiary of the NNPC, the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company(PPMC) is the sole importer of the product.

The NNPC said the source has a higher landing cost than that of the PPPRA. Although the agency had last year announced the deregulation of the product, the Federal Government had recourse to subsidising it when the landing cost became unbearable for the end-users.

The NNPC that termed it under recovery regime has left the pump price at a band between N162 and N165 per litre.

From the PPPRA landing cost of N264.65 per litre, there exists a subsidy or an under-recovery of N102.65 per litre.

In the last few years, many stakeholders within and outside the federal government have called for the scrapping of the subsidy regime for premium motor spirit (PMS), better known as petrol.

Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, in July 2021, advocated the end of fuel subsidy, saying it “costs as much as N150 billion” monthly.

Her comment came four months after Mele Kyari, Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), had said the company “may no longer be in a position” to bear the “subsidy burden”.

 

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Economy

Auditor General indicts MTN  over evasion of Customs duty since 2021

 

—–as House of Reps knocks FIRS over operational infractions

The Office of the Auditor General of Federation has indicted the telecom giant, MTN, over evasion of payment of Customs duties since 2021.

This was contained in the 2019 queries issued by the office of the Auditor General of the Federation which was made available to the House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts.
The committee also heard that the Federal Inland Revenue Service, (FIRS)  received capital allowances claims by taxpayers without the certificate of acceptance from the ministry of trade and industries in 2019.

Speaking at the resumed hearing of the investigations on queries issued by the office of the Auditor General of the Federation against the Ministries, Departments and Agencies, (MDAs) of the Federal Government, the Chairman of the committee Hon Oluwole Oluwole Oke, lamented the level of external borrowings by the federal government, saying that the committee’s probe of public funds was aimed at curtailing revenue leakages to boost government treasury.

His statement was coming against the backdrop of tax evasion by the telecom service provider, MTN whose current assets stand at N2.68 trillion in the country, yet does not have proof of customs duty over the years.

The lawmakers also decried the issuance of an assets certificate by the Ministry of Trade and investment to the telecommunication firm without first evaluating their assets.

Following the failure of the MTN representative to tender the relevant documents to buttress his position that the company was up to date, the committee resolved to write the Nigeria Customs Service, (NCS) to furnish it with relevant documents, including MTN duty permit so as to ascertain the total amount it owes government since 2001.

Hon Oke, therefore, directed the Clerk of the Committee to write to the Management of the Nigeria Customs Service on the financial indebtedness of the firm to the federal government.

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Economy

AFCFTA, WCO sign MoU to enhance trade in Africa  

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat and the World Customs Organisation (WCO) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at operationalising the tariff schedules and ensuring additional free and efficient movement of goods in Africa.

The MoU, which was signed in Brussels, Belgium, on February 15, 2022, by the Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Wamkele Mene and the Secretary-General of the WCO, Kunio Mikuriya, is expected to strengthen the organisational capacity, transparency and effectiveness of African Customs administrations sustainably, through cooperation between both organisations.

The shared goal of both organisations remains to enhance continental trade by eradicating trade barriers through connecting Customs systems, populating the AfCFTA Tariff Book and providing capacity building for Customs officials and administration.

Mene said that “The MoU will improve the partnership between the WCO to and the AfCFTA in ensuring that Customs Administrations are fully equipped to implement the AfCFTA Agreement.”

He further said that good progress has been made since the establishment of the AfCFTA Secretariat, saying that one major milestone is the ratification of Rules of Origin for 87.7 percent of tariff headings agreed upon by 41 of its 54 Member States.

Mene noted that the expectations were high and that communities were eager to start trading under the new Agreement. He acknowledged the WCO’s expertise and role in delivering capacity building in highly-technical areas which were key for implementing the Agreement.

On his part, Dr. Mikuriya highlighted the areas where the WCO could contribute, including customs technical matters such as the Harmonised System, Valuation and Origin, as well as automation, risk management and trade facilitation which will yield economic benefits to the African continent.

He reaffirmed WCO’s commitment to contribute to the regional integration efforts in Africa through customs modernisation.

AfCFTA is the world’s largest free trade area since the formulation of the World Trade Organisation.

 It aims to bring together all 55 member states of the African Union, covering a market of more than 1.2 billion people, including a growing middle class and a combined gross domestic product of $2.6 trillion.
It works towards several objectives, most importantly to create a single market for goods and services, having the potential to boost intra-African trade by 52.3 percent.

WCO is the only intergovernmental organisation focused uniquely on customs matters.

With 184 Members across the globe collectively processing 98 percent of world trade, the WCO is recognised as the voice of the customs community.
It is noted for its expertise in developing global standards, simplifying and harmonising customs procedures, trade security, trade facilitation, customs enforcement and compliance, the Harmonised System goods nomenclature, valuation, origin, and customs capacity building.

The MoU is expected to strengthen the organisational capacity, transparency and effectiveness of African Customs administrations sustainably, through cooperation between both organisations.

The shared goal of both organisations remains to enhance continental trade by eradicating trade barriers through connecting Customs systems, populating the AfCFTA Tariff Book and providing capacity building for Customs officials and administration.
AfCFTA is the world’s largest free trade area since the formulation of the World Trade Organisation. It aims to bring together all 55 member states of the African Union, covering a market of more than 1.2 billion people, including a growing middle class and a combined gross domestic product of $2.6 trillion.

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Economy

NNPC, MRS engage in blame game over importation of toxic fuel

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC) and MRS, a Major oil marketer, have engaged in a blame game over the importation of adulterated fuel into the country.
The two organisations were locked in trading of accusations and counter-accusations over who was responsible for the importation of the toxic fuel.
Curiously, the NNPC, the sole importer of petroleum products into the country, in an attempt to absolve itself of the national embarrassment, fingered some major oil marketers in the sordid transaction.
The Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, at a press conference on Wednesday, revealed that MRS, Emadeb/Hyde/AY Maikifi/Brittania-U Consortium, Oando and Duke Oil are the importers of the adulterated fuel.
However,MRS countered the position of the NNPC, accusing the oil corporation of importing the toxic fuel.
In its rebuttal statement on Wednesday, MRS  accused Panama-based Duke Oil, an NNPC agent, of being the direct importer of the adulterated fuel.
The Major Oil marketer denied importing the substandard PMS, stating that importation of fuel into Nigeria was solely the responsibility of Duke Oil on behalf of NNPC, and the contaminated fuel was distributed to various retailing companies.
How the toxic fuel was imported and distributed in Nigeria

Investigation revealed that Duke Oil is a subsidiary of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), acting as the government agency’s trading arm, which makes the firm the only importer of PMS into Nigeria.

The company was established about 32 years ago during the administration of Gen Ibrahim Babangida, with a registered designation of Sociedad Anonima, which means Anonymous Society.

Sociedad Anonima implies that shareholders of Duke Oil are largely unknown or secret, and its registered base is in Panama, a Central American country known for providing safe haven to money launderers.

Stakeholders have however queried why a government agency such as NNPC should be running a sole trading arm that is operating out of a money laundering country with secret shareholders.

After the importation of the contaminated fuel, it was gathered that OVH, MRS, NIPCO, ARDOVA and TOTAL  received the contaminated fuel from NNPC, after landing in Apapa between the 24th and 30th of January, 2022.

Sources claimed the adulterated fuel was bought by Duke Oil from the international trader, Litasco, and it has 20% methanol, an illegal substance in Nigeria after it was delivered with Motor Tanker (MT) Nord Gainer.

“Following delivery into the tank, it was observed that the product appeared hazy and dark,” MRS claimed.

adding “the product analysis revealed that the PMS discharged by MT Nord Ganier had 20% methanol, which is an illegal substance in Nigeria.

“As a Company, we are aware that alcohol/ethanol is not permitted to be mixed in PMS specification.” The oil and gas company wrote in the filing at the Exchange on Wednesday.

MRS said it has now halted further sales of fuel from its retailing stations and awaits NNPC’s decision on replacing the contaminated fuel.

However, Kyari said the efforts of the NNPC have been to hold back the affected fuel some of which came from Antwerp in Belgium.
He also explained that petrol imported into the country does not include tests to ascertain the level of methanol content.
The NNPC boss however said that the quality of the products as shown in the certificates issues at port of loading in Belgium showed the fuel was in compliance with Nigerian specifications.
Apart from this, he added that GMO, SGS, GeoChem and G&G working as NNPC quality inspectors had carried out tests before the products were discharged showing Nigeria’s standard.

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