THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has kicked against the increase in Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), otherwise, known as petrol from N148. 50 per liter to N151.56 per litre.
Reacting to the increase, NLC President, Mr Ayuba Wabba, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja that with the increment, the Labour Union cannot guarantee industrial peace.
NAN reports that the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC) had in a statement announced that the new product price adjustment takes effect from Sept. 2.
It would be recalled on Aug. 5, the price of petrol was increased from N143.50 to N148.50 per liter.
Some filling stations in Abuja have already started selling petrol for N161 per litre as at 5 p.m. on Wednesday.
According to Wabba, Nigerians and even the NLC are shocked about the increase and this increase is coming at a time when many Nigerians are passing through very peculiar and precarious times.
“It is like Nigerians are being taken for a ride, the increase in price of petroleum is like adding salt to injury.
“The increase in the price of petroleum has happened more than three times in three months, only yesterday they hiked the tariff of electricity,” he said.
The NLC president said that to compound the issue, the CBN also reduced the interest rate of savings which affects mostly the poor and the vulnerable.
“The organised labour therefore rejects the increase in price of the product in the strongest terms.”
According to him, at the end of the day, Nigerians are becoming poorer and poorer, in fact many people are already on the edge. Many workers are already on the edge.”
“Certainly, we cannot guarantee industrial peace and harmony, and we will have to call our organs and we will have to also react but we reject it in its entirety.
“They have betrayed the trust of Nigerians, for Nigerians to be protected against the economic challenge that is affecting us,” he said,
Also reacting, Prof. Uche Uwaleke, Professor of Finance and Capital Market, Nasarawa State University, told NAN that the new price will heighten inflationary pressure in the country.
“This is clearly a downside risk to inflation.
“In the coming months, I expect inflationary pressure to heighten as crude oil price recovery in the international market necessitates a hike in domestic pump price of imported fuel.
“This situation will be compounded by naira devaluation,” he said.
Uwaleke, also a former Imo Commissioner for Finance said that to save the situation, the alternative would have been petrol subsidy.
According to him, government cannot afford it now as it is not provided for in the 2020 budget.
“Again, expecting a government already saddled with huge debt to borrow to subsidise the price of petrol does not make economic sense.
“With all the economic headwinds, there is no question about a spike in cost of living in the coming months,” he said.
He noted that the only solution was for government to ensure the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
“The solution remains passing the Petroleum Industry Bill into law to pave way for investors in the oil refining sector which will put a stop to import of petroleum products well before Dangote refinery takes off to fill the gap,” he said.