The federal government said on Thursday that about 37 companies had already expressed interest in investing in the nation’s refineries following the recent liberalization of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.
Speaking at the national secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abuja during a meeting between some members of the Federal executive council and the leadership of the party, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, stated that about 37 companies had already expressed interest in investing in the nation’s refineries following the recent liberalisation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.
The President Buhari-led federal government’s spokesperson also listed several other benefits accruing from the decision to include the creation of about 200,000 jobs and saving of 400,000 others.
Recall that the federal government had last week introduced a new fuel price regime with a litre of the product selling at not more than N145.
Lai Mohammed lamented that in 2015, the government paid over N1 trillion as subsidy and also sought the approval of the National Assembly for a supplementary budget with subsidy component of N522 billion, noting that such situation was no longer sustainable.
He said apart from guaranteeing the availability of fuel everywhere in the country at all times, the new price regime would also strengthen and make governments at every level much more viable.
According to him, a situation where the crude which the NNPC had been using to supplement its swap system would cease and then there would be more money for the three tiers of government to share.
“This prize regime is going to encourage more investment in refineries and in the gas stream sector. You may notice that throughout last week, 37 companies are jostling to come and invest in our refineries just because we have opened up the sector.
“Again this prize regime will lead to the creation of more jobs because when people invest in the downstream sector, they invest in refineries, there will be more jobs and it will also save the existing jobs. We can see a total of 200,000 new jobs being created and saving existing 400,000 jobs.
“On the long run when products are available, people do not have to sleep at the petrol stations, it softens their pains. This is the only government that out of its own conviction, out of its love for the poor people made available half a trillion naira in the budget without any provocation, without anybody protesting, to take care of the common man,” the minister added.
The minister said all the relevant unions in the oil industry were carried along in the decision to liberalise the downstream sector and that they also advised government on how best the fuel impasse could be finally and permanently arrested before government took its position.
He stated that the marketers who complained of their inability to access foreign exchange as their major challenge were told to submit a proposal on the cost of the product if they were to access forex from the parallel market, adding that the new prize regime was informed by their report.