The House of Representatives on Monday accused the Federal Government of illegally reintroducing subsidy on the Premium Motor Spirit.
It said Nigerians deserved an explanation on the development, which had seen the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation offsetting N26 on every litre of the PMS, better known as petrol, sold to the public lately.
The Chairman, House Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), Mr. Joseph Akinlaja, who spoke with The PUNCH, said that the National Assembly did not appropriate the N26 subsidy.
In 2016, following the increase in the pump price of petrol from N87 to N145, the government stopped paying subsidy on fuel.
A price range of between N143 and N145 was allowed, but marketers quickly settled for the upper limit of N145.
However, the government admitted in the heat of the latest round of petrol scarcity that the NNPC, the lone importer of the product, had been paying an extra N26 on each litre of the product.
A landing cost of N171 per litre and a pump price of N145 automatically leave a gap of N26.
Akinlaja told The PUNCH that the news came to the House as a big surprise, which must be investigated.
He added, “I call it backdoor subsidy because as a legislature, we are not aware of the N26. The Executive has assumed the role of the National Assembly through the NNPC.
“The Executive is responsible for the execution of polices and the National Assembly has the role of making laws. As a legislature, we didn’t make any new law or appropriation of money in the name of subsidy on petrol.
“Who appropriated this N26 per litre? One million litres is equal to N26m and one billion litres is equal to N26bn. Is N26bn small money? Can N26bn be approved through Executive fiat or order? No!”
Akinlaja added that his committee had already been directed by the Speaker of the House, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, to join the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources to investigate the cause of the current fuel scarcity in the country.
He said the leadership of the National Assembly was worried that despite the assurances given by the NNPC that there was enough petrol in stock, Nigerians celebrated the Christmas and New Year facing difficulties in moving from one part of the country to another.
Akinlaja stated, “We are starting the investigation on Wednesday. First, we will go round various service points to speak with other stakeholders and ask questions on why we have this scarcity. It is important for us to have that first-hand information.
“We will come back and sit for a public hearing the next day, being Thursday. All the stakeholders have been invited and we have to find answers to two issues.
“One is what has happened to the distribution system? Why is petrol scarce in spite of all the assurances given by the NNPC? The second one is how we came about the N26 the NNPC is paying on petrol.”