FG still consulting on petroleum pump price, says minister

Indication emerged yesterday that the Federal Government was still consulting on whether the pump price of petroleum products should be slashed as a result of the crash in the crude oil prices.

Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, gave the indication while addressing newsmen after the presidential committee set up to review the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) on the country’s economy, especially this year’s budget submitted its interim report to President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja.

On when the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), otherwise known as petrol, would likely be reduced in the country going by the reduction in crude oil price in the international market, he said: “We are still consulting, we are still following it closely. Of course, usually, the product prices follow the crude oil price, but we are still consulting. We’ll get back to you. Please, be patient.”

A member of the committee and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said the country has not considered it necessary for now to place a travel ban on international flights as a result of the outbreak of COVID-19, saying: “I must say that at this time, we don’t consider it very necessary that we should go for a travel ban.

“You must have read and heard about the consequences of the travel ban the United States (US) has imposed. It has also even dire consequences.

“However, it’s not to say that we are not taking the issue very seriously and I can say this, we have friends and relatives who have travelled to the US recently and they tell you that on entering the borders of the US, the kind of checks they see at the airport is totally nonexistent compare to the ones that we have in Nigeria.

“That is a credit for Nigeria and the minister of Health has taken this very seriously and we are very happy about the response so far on that matter. It’s just good that we allow it the way it is now, so we don’t create more panic in the system that could have even dire consequences for our economy.”

Concerning spike in the foreign exchange rate at the Bureau de Change (BDC) segment of the market, the CBN governor said: “Some of you might have read about the release by the CBN Thursday evening and our assessment of what has happened is that this is the activities of some unscrupulous speculators who thought they could take advantage of what is happening to begin to speculate on the currency.

“We have released that circular to say there is no need to panic, anybody who has legitimate business would get foreign exchange to conduct his/her business. If you want to travel, which we don’t advise at this time, you will get a foreign exchange to travel. You want to conduct business, do import? You will get foreign exchange to conduct that import transaction.

“For that reason, there is no need for you to rush; everybody wants to rush to get a foreign exchange that they don’t even require at this time, thereby leading to the spike in the price of the dollars.

“I am happy to confirm to you that as a result of this, we have also begun, in collaboration with the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, as well as other security agencies, including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to establish the people involved and I can tell you that we will find them because they use accounts. We will find them and I will like to advise them to desist from it.

“But we are happy at this time that those who would have been affected by the panic being created by these speculators having read what we released and the market has now calmed down.

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