By Louis Iba and Uche Usim
NIGERIANS yesterday reacted to the fuel price raise announced by the Federal Government, insisting it was in the best interest of the citizens.
In his reaction to the price increase, President of the Downstream Group of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mr. Ken Abazie, faulted the government’s announcement, stressing that what the industry actually needs was full deregulation and not partial deregulation.
Abazie said placing a ceiling on the pump price of fuel as done by the government could spark a hike in prices of products rather than crash
“What we need as Nigerians and which is what the operators of the downstream industry have been canvasing for, is full deregulation of the downstream industry where market forces will determine prices of products,” said Abazie.
“Operators never wanted a deregulation in which any form of ceiling will be placed on prices by the government as it has just done. We are not happy with the ceiling policy because that is not the right thing the Federal Government should have done,” Abazie added.
He said that only full deregulation would boost investors’ confidence to commit funds into the construction of refineries as any form of price regulation like the new policy tends to suggest would hurt investments.
“No one will invest in infrastructure that can refine finished products under a regime in which the government has any form of control on prices of end products,” said Abazie. “Petroleum product is just like any other product and the Nigerian government should hands-off the industry,” he added.
Meanwhile, transporters, commuters, licensed Customs agents, port operators and other maritime stakeholders yesterday described the hike in petrol price to N145 a litre as the last stroke to economically strangle Nigerians.
According to them, the price of food items, transport, haulage and other services will skyrocket with the increase.