The Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, has said the country cannot stop the payment of petroleum subsidy.
Speaking at the inaugural joint meeting of the Senate and House committees on Petroleum (Upstream), he said the subsidy will remain till 2020.
He said: “I want to say this: government is not about to remove subsidy because it is difficult. We believe as a government that our people are already going through a lot of suffering and we can not as a responsible government heap other issue of petroleum price hike or removal of subsidy on Nigerians.
“So it is not on the cards at all. We are just looking at how we can manage it. The subsidy may not be very clearly captured but it is there. But I can assure that it is there. If you look very carefully, you will see it. We all known that the price of petrol is N145 and that is what we should be concerned about.”
The minister however said that it is now evident with the border closure that the daily local consumption of 60 million litres is incorrect.
“We also believe that the consumption that is being posted on a daily basis doesn’t represent the actual projection of petroleum products. We don’t believe that Nigerians are consuming over 60 million litres of petroleum products a day,” he added.
While answering questions from the Committee members, he said: “The issue of $62 billion outstanding payment on PSC is an interesting issue, and I want to say that as a Nigerian, I’m the first person that will jump at it if the opportunity exists.
“But we must look at funds that is there for us to recover versus opportunity that has been missed. There are a lot of things that we could have done yesterday. If we didn’t do them yesterday, sorry. Even in law, we have what you call sleeping on your rights,” he said.
On the discovery of oil in Bauchi, he said: “It is true that oil has been discovered in Bauchi, we believe already that it is in commercial quantity, and its also very good quality crude. There’s oil and also a lot of gas and evaluation is being done.”
He said the impact of border closure on petroleum products is evident.
“Definitely we are beginning to see the numbers reducing. from over 60 million liters it has already comes down last account to about 52 million liter per day. That means the figures are coming down. We are beginning to restore orderliness. We are trying to block other leakages to minimal level.”