From Uche Usim, Abuja

The Minister of State Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva, on Tuesday calmed frayed nerves with assurances that the signing of  the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) by President Muhammadu Buhari, Monday, may not automatically translate to a hike in pump price of petrol (premium motor spirit).

Speaking at a media briefing in Abuja, Sylva said that despite the PIA provisions on deregulation, Nigerians should await presidential details and directives on today when it would be tabled at the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting.

Daily Sun had on Tuesday reported that the signing of the PIB would translate to higher petrol price of about N270/litre, as Sylva had repeatedly said that the new law has no provision for subsidy currently being borne by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

The Minister, however, revealed that the national oil company would be unbundled in the next six months as stipulated in the new law.

He said, “Well as you know, the Act has actually deregulated the sector but that doesn’t mean that there will be an immediate implementation of the deregulation.

“What the Act provides is that products will be sold at market dictated prices. But we are mindful of the fact that this will bring some hardship which is why we are not going to jump into implement it.”

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He added, “The implementation framework will take care of that, as well as how we are going to alleviate the sufferings that this might bring. 

“It is not going to be automatic. We have been working with labour to ensure that there is a framework that will allow us to implement this deregulation provision of the Act.”

On the ongoing discussions with the organised labour on subsidy removal, Sylva explained that the consultations were not yet concluded.

“The issue is not just about discussing with labour, because we agreed between labour and government  that we need to put a framework in place for the implementation of deregulation.

“Because more or less there is consensus across the table now that deregulation is desirable. But how do we achieve it? That’s the question now. Labour and government  have agreed and so we are now in the process of putting the infrastructure and process in place.”

He added, “Once we are able to agree on that process with labour then we are ready to deregulate. So, we will keep it within that band (N162 – N165 per litre) for the time being”.