COVID-19: Experts call for quick passage of PIB, advocate subsidy removal, deregulation

Amid threats of COVID-19 to oil sector, experts and stakeholders in the sector have called for quick passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

They also called for subsidy removal and the deregulation of the downstream sub-sector.

The calls were made by participants at a workshop organised to review key issues that require urgent reforms in the oil and gas industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

They called for accelerated passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, to save the country from the severe damaging effect of COVID-19.

The workshop, organised by the Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) drew participants from various Civil Society Groups as well as the media.

In a communique signed by CTA Executive Director, Ms Faith Nwadishi, the participants said the reform actions suggested during the workshop, if taken, could send a strong positive signal to the world, while it will ensure that the oil and gas industry is properly positioned to stimulate a rapid recovery of our economy in the post-COVID-19 period.

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The participants said subsidy removal, deregulation of the downstream sub-sector; and acceleration of the submission, passage, and assent to the PIB are urgent reforms needed.

On subsidy removal, the workshop welcomed the announcement made by the Group Managing Director (GMD) of NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari, on the immediate cessation of subsidy on Petroleum Motor Spirit (PMS).

It, however, urged the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, provide a legal or policy framework that backs the pronouncement in order to prevent a possible reversal in the future.

It argued that the Federal Government should make clear its plan to midwife the transition to a zero-subsidy dispensation which should include how the savings from subsidy would be utilized, how the impact of possible future increase in the pump price of fuel on the poor would be alleviated, and how local refining capacity would be improved.

On Deregulation of the Downstream sector, the workshop recommended that the government should seize the current opportunity of low crude prices to deregulate the downstream sector.

The communique reads further: “On the Petroleum Industry Bill; that the urgent need to overhaul the regulatory framework for the oil and gas industry has been further highlighted by the current crisis facing the industry.

“That the executive should, without further delay, submit a draft PIB (in whole or in parts) to the National Assembly for consideration. In turn, the National Assembly, when they receive the bill (or bills), should accord it the urgency it deserves by fast-tracking its consideration and passage.”

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