Nigerians have been asked to brace up for another petrol price hike due to the lingering scarcity of foreign exchange to finance the importation of the product.
According to the oil marketers, the US dollar hit an all-time high last week, as it exchanged for N400 at the parallel market.
An official of one of the notable oil marketing companies, told Punch on condition of anonymity that despite the competition in the business, they were battling hard to retain the price of the Premium Motor Spirit within the approved N133.28 per litre range.
He said: “The truth is that Nigerians just have to brace for higher PMS price; there are no two ways about it. The government cannot fund this market; the money is not just there. Even if the government wishes to assist, it does not have the wherewithal to do. So, Nigerians should brace for higher rates.
“We are all aware that the price of crude has been falling in the international market and it is the dollar the government gets from crude sale that it uses to solve forex problems. So, there’s no fast rule or solution to it than for all of us, both users and marketers, to just prepare for a price hike.
“For marketers, they should know that the days of higher profits are gone. Before now, if you want to import petrol, you’ll have to wait for months and possibly bribe some people to get an import licence. But those days are gone; nowadays, every interested dealer can get the licence and this has created room for competition, which is why you still get the product at around N140 to N145 per litre. We only hope that this will continue as the dollar availability improves.”
Another member of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria was quoted as saying that the ex-depot price of the PMS had remained at N133.28 per litre because the marketers were doing their best to manage the situation.
He said: “It is very logical for the PMS price to rise any moment from now, for there is no way somebody can import at the rate of N400 to a dollar and you expect him to continue selling at the official ex-depot price. And mind you, the government promised to facilitate forex provision to marketers at N287 to a dollar, because you cannot buy at N400 and expect to continue selling at the prevalent rates you see at filling stations today.
“However, most depots are still managing the situation and are selling at the recommended price of N133.28 per litre to filling stations. It is when it goes above this price that you will notice the eventual increase in the pump prices of the PMS. So, if the trend of forex unavailability continues, then the situation may go out of the control of the marketers.”