The Department of State Services, DSS, may have taken over the job of monitoring downstream petroleum distribution and marketing, as part of the President Muhamadu Buhari’s measures to stem the high level of corruption in subsidy claims.
Consequently, retail outlets found selling any petroleum product above the prescribed government price will be immediately shut down, while any depot selling above the ex-depot price will have to forfeit the subsidy claims on the cargo that brought in the product.
The move followed the apparent inability of the industry regulators, the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, whose officials were apparently overwhelmed by the supply shortages to check sharp practices and market excesses among the operators.
Consequently, the DPR has scheduled another impromptu closed door meeting with marketers and other industry stakeholders today (Wednesday) at its Headquarters in Lagos, to update them on the new development.
Confirming the development yesterday, a top industry source who also attended the meeting told Vanguard in a telephone interview that the decision was made known to stakeholders at a closed door meeting which held in Abuja on Monday.
The source, who spoke in confidence said: “DSS will lead the operations (monitoring), and marketers were also asked to monitor each other and to report any sharp practices. “Government decided that enough was enough and will no longer condone any sharp practices in the system.”
The source, disclosed that the meeting was at the instance of the Federal Government, and had in attendance the representatives of the DSS, DPR, PPPRA, Major and independent marketers, depot operators and a host of other industry operators.
The source added that attendants sat for long hours deliberating on the best way to arrest the unofficial price hike of petroleum products in the market, occasioned by supply shortages following the inability of the government to pay markets outstanding subsidy claims of over N200billion.
Sudden hike in price
The source was responding to Vanguard’s enquiries on the cause of the sudden unofficial hike of both the pump price and ex-depot price of premium motor spirit, PMS, popularly called petrol and kerosene, and the helplessness of the industry regulators to arrest the situation.
Since the supply shortages set in some months ago, marketers and depot operators took the initiative to hike pump and ex-depot prices to reap enormous profit while waiting for government to pay off their outstanding claims.
As a result, practically every retail outlet sold petrol at above the prescribed N87/Litre, to peg price at between N100 and N150/Litre depending on the outlet and location.
Similarly, rather than the prescribed N81/litre ex-depot price, marketers accused the depot operators of selling at N96/litre instead, which they claimed forced them to also hike pump price.
He said: “Such practices will no longer be condoned especially with the involvement of the DSS, who will use their intelligence network to get to the root of the matter.
“The meeting decided that all marketers must sell at the regulated price of N87/litre of petrol. And anyone found to be selling above this, the DSS will track the outlet to the depot where the product was lifted.
“If it was discovered that the pump price increase is as a result of hike in ex-depot price, then both the outlet and the depot will be sanctioned.
“Originally, it was agreed that both the outlet and the depot will be shut down, but after considering the situation, if was agreed that the depot will not be shut down in order not to exacerbate the supply situation.
“However, the depot operator will be made to forfeit his subsidy claims on that cargo, as it will be assumed that he has reimbursed himself through the ex-depot price hike.”