Sylva calls for NNPC, EFCC, others’ synergy to tackle petrol smuggling

Minister of State for Petroleum Resource, Chief Timipre Sylva has called on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF), Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to collaborate with other security agencies to tackle the rising cases of cross border smuggling of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) popularly referred to as petrol. 
Sylva, who made the call at a stakeholders meeting organized by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), in Abuja, to proffer solution to the menace posed by petrol smuggling to the economy said stakeholders must work together to halt the criminality surrounding smuggling of petrol. 

He said, “I will like to put it on record that whatever we are trying to do in the area of deregulation will not make sense without us exactly knowing the actual consumption of PMS.
“When I first came in as minister,  I was informed that the daily consumption in the country was around  60 to 62 million litres a day, which to me sounded a little bit outrageous considering the number of cars we have on the road”.

“But somehow, the figures, I understand today have come down to around 52 million litres, may be the number of vehicles have suddenly reduced, but you will agree with me that something is wrong that is why the tracking of trucks loading products is essential for us to move forward on this issue of subsidy removal,’’ the minister said.
Sylva added that illegal export  of products through the borders whether the land or sea must be stopped, adding that Operation White  that was commissioned in 2020 had not worked effectively until the EFCC came into the picture.

“I believe that with the EFCC in the picture, I think that the system will work better and know that the Petroleum Equalisation Fund is also working on product tracking arrangements. For me, I am happy to see that the EFCC is working with us and if we can get this right, I think our movement toward deregulation will be better assured,’’ he said 
Speaking, Group Managing Director (GMD), NNPC, Mele Kyari, lamented that the economy was bleeding as the Corporation was finding it difficult to sustain subsidy payment.
NNPC, on Tuesday put the PMS consumption in the month of 103 million litres per day 
He also revealed that the current PMS and subsidy payment was becoming very unsustainable. 
According to him, with the high volume of daily consumption, the country cannot sustain subsidy payment adding “as long as we don’t regulate volume, until we are able to exit this current level, which I know so much work is going on, then we have to manage the volume that we are exposed to between this price of N162 and N256”.

“The difference comes back to as much as N140 billion to N150 billion cost to the country monthly. As long as the volume goes up, that money continue to increase and we have two sets of stress to face, stress of supply  and stress of foreign exchange for the NNPC. We may not see foreign exchange cheque taking place for importation,’’ he said.
Explaining further, Kyari said with current exchange rate, the pump price of petrol should be N256 per litre.
“If we are to sell at the market today at current exchange rate, we will be selling the product at about N256 to a litre. What we sell today is N162, so the difference is at a cost to the nation,’’ he said

“In very recent data, we see what we really want in the beginning of May and June, there was a day we load out about 103 million litres of PMS within one day across the depots. We know it is not required, we know it is inappropriate and we also know that something wrong is happening that somebody is chasing something.
“But we in NNPC, we are not in control of that, we are not in every depot, we don’t keep products in all the depot but when the volume goes down, it comes down to us, when there is tight in supply, it comes back to the NNPC and we solve the problem,’’ he said.
The NNPC helmsman admitted that the introduction of Operation White and EFCC’s involvement helped to a little adding that “from the truck out report from the PPPRA database , we have seen collapse of load out average move from 70 million litres to 60 million litres just in one month,  that means we can do with less than 70 million, the balance, I don’t know where it goes to but we know for sure that it is not consumed in this country”.
He said that the corporation had incorporated the EFCC, the Department of Security Services (DSS), the Nigeria Customs services (NCS), the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), on a platform to achieve this.
Also, the EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, said the commission was happy to be part of Operation White since part of its duty was to ensure closure of financial crimes in the country.
“It is quite disheartening to see what is happening, in 2012, we were faced with petroleum subsidy fraud, we at the EFCC were able to unravel a lot of fraud going on there.
“From  volume falsification to alteration of bill of laden, to the non-payment of over recovery and to what I call single importation and double subsidy payment.
“We are still trying to recover about N50 billion we have identified in the fraud but now it is a different ball game, NNPC has taking responsibility of importation of products but the issue of smuggling is there,” he said.

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