The federal government has hinted that it is engaged in consultations to decide whether or not petrol prices will be reduced for Nigerians in view of the global drop in crude oil prices caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, announced this to State House correspondents after the Presidential committee on the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak on Nigeria’s economy presented an interim report to President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja yesterday.
The committee is chaired by the minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, and has other members as Sylva; the Central Bank of Nigeria governor, Godwin Emefiele; and group general managing director, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari; among others. Sylva was reminded by reporters that dwindling crude oil prices translate to lower domestic prices for huge importers of refined petroleum products like Nigeria, and a price slash had actually resulted in the past.
He said, “On when the price of PMS is likely to be reduced considering the drop the crude oil price, of course we are still consulting. We’ll get back to you, please be patient.” On her part, the minister of finance disclosed that the government had released N285 billion from the 2020 budget for capital projects. According to her ,another $220 million had also been released by government for counterpart funding. She said the committee would be back next week to brief the President on the necessary adjustments that would be made for the nation’s economy to run smoothly in spite of the global oil price crash.
According to her, government would continue to run normally, while investments especially in critical sectors should not cease. She said, “The Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Works and Housing, Niger Delta, a number of ministries and agencies that have important infrastructure projects have got their funds. “Also this week we have been able to release to the Ministry of Transport the counterpart funding provided for in our budget that is required for the important railway projects that are currently ongoing.
The finances from the China EXIM Bank. “What we have been mandated to do is to ensure that the business of government continues to run as much as possible normally, that government agencies are funded but there must be continuous investments in critical infrastructure that would ensure continuous growth and also concentrate on programmes and project that will enhance employment of our people.
“We are looking at ways and means in which the revenue of government will be stabilized and that we are able to fund the states through the FAAC process at a level that is averagely expected and planned for by both the federal as well as the national budget. On the issue of interest rate, the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, said “On the issue of interest rate, luckily, even before this time, I am sure most of you must have observed that interest rate has come down quite drastically and we are going to continue to ensure that it is not a temporary phenomenon, that it will be a phenomenon that will continue because we think and we believe that Nigerians, whether they are business people or private people who deserve to take credit should do so at a lowinterest rate so that they can use them for a good purpose, pay back those loans and also do good business.”