As uncertainty is trailing the sustained availability of petrol or Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) at various retail outlets, oil marketers, especially depot owners have insisted that the port agencies are flouting a Presidency directive that freight charges be collected in naira and not dollar rate.
According to them, the port levy which is in dollars has added significantly to the cost of the product, saying a directive issued as far back as 2018 asking the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to be collecting naira from them, has not been implemented.
Daily Trust obtained a copy of the letter signed by the late Chief of Staff, Mr. Abba Kyari, addressed to the minister of Transportation, requesting him to direct NIMASA and NPA to stop collecting dollars from petroleum importers.
The late Chief of Staff wrote the letter in response to a complaint by the marketers which was directed to the then Minister of State for Petroleum.
The letter to the minister of Transportation dated January 17, 2018 reads: “The attached correspondence from the Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources on the above subject matter, specifically regarding charges due to the NPA and NIMASA under the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) templates [now Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority – NMDR] refers.
“Kindly note that Mr. President has approved that NPA and NIMASA charges, relating to the import of petroleum products, currently paid in US dollars under the PPPRA pricing templates should henceforth be paid in naira.”
But the marketers and depot owners said since 2018 when the directive was issued, NPA and NIMASA are still collecting their charges in dollars thereby adding to their freight cost.
Although the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited is now the sole importer of petroleum products, a marketer who spoke under anonymity said the NNPC has some dollar components in their charges when they hire vessels from them.
“The port levy paid by these vessel and depot owners is what is in dollars and as long as the naira-dollar exchange continues to rise, there will be a gap in the price of fuel at the wholesale end from the depots, especially at a time when the sector is being deregulated with the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA),” said another oil depot operator.
The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) placed the increase at the depot at N9 per litre and said some members can’t afford to restock as the product rose from N148 to N155 per litre in late October.
No such directive on port levy – NIMASA, NPA
NIMASA’s Head of Shipping Promotion, Dr. Momoh Alhassan, said it did not at any time receive such a letter from the office of the Chief of Staff at the Presidency to accept naira payment from oil marketers.
“For the purpose of clarity, NIMASA’s three percent levy has nothing to do with the high cost of petroleum products.”
Alhassan said to import petrol, a refinery for instance in the United States, would give the prices of product, insurance and shipping.
“NNPC Limited, which is the sole importer of petroleum products, does not pay until the product is discharged at the point of destination.”
NIMASA then collects its statutory 3% freight levy from the contracted shipping line, and because the ship is large and cannot enter Nigeria’s channels, the shipper gets smaller vessels to ferry the products to its point of discharge.
“The smaller vessels under cabotage pay a certain amount in naira to NIMASA,” said Alhassan.
At NPA, the acting Head of Corporate and Strategy Communication, Ibrahim Nasir, said he was not aware of such a directive from the presidency to the NPA.
The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, didn’t return text messages to his phone seeking clarification on the matter; the Director, Press and Public Relations in the ministry, Mr. Eric Ejiekwe, declined comment on the matter and referred our reporter to NIMASA.
…as NMDR warns marketers
Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NMDR, Farouk Ahmed, confirmed that petrol is being sold above approved rated at loading depots of Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN) members, and asked them to revert.
“The CEO, therefore, cautions marketers against hoarding and engaging in unwholesome practices that are inimical to the smooth supply of petrol.”
NNPC Limited yesterday said it has over 1.7 billion litres of petrol in stock and asked motorists to desist from panic buying while it was meeting with stakeholders to address the gap.