• Saturday, June 22, 2024
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Fuel scarcity is artificial, stop panic buying, says Consumer Protection Agency

Fuel subsidy removal: Nigeria’s painful path to economic revival

There is no acute reduction in product availability at both supply and retail points in the value chain of petroleum distribution to justify the hardship and constraints emerging due to long fuel queues, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) said in a release.

The Commission said that it is adopting the advisory issued by the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) on May 29, advising consumers not to engage in panic purchases or otherwise stockpile products in a manner inconsistent with regular periodic purchases and consumption.

According to the statement signed by Babatunde Irukera, Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the FCCPC, this conclusion was arrived at after engaging with the Lagos State Consumer Protection Agency (LASCOPA), NMDPRA, and the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN).

“The Commission notes a significant and potentially inexplicable emerging increase and lengthening of wait times in procuring fuel at filling stations in certain locations across the country.

“This emerging hardship on motorists and other consumers invariably impedes commerce, and traffic and presents other difficulties, unintended consequences and financial constraints for citizens,” the release read.

Petroleum products are generally flammable and require transportation, dispensation, consumption, and storage in strictly controlled and regulated manners. Any contrary approach to these strictly regulated manners constitutes danger and risk of significant losses, even fatality.

“As such, and in accordance with the assurances of the NMDPRA and MOMAN that existing supplies are not insufficient for regularly established consumption levels, the Commission encourages consumers not to modify their regular purchase and consumption patterns.”

In addition, the Commission reiterated its obligations with respect to businesses/undertakings in the supply chain under the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act, 2018 (FCCPA).

“Section 17 (g) prohibits deceptive or unconscionable business practices. Section 17 (s) prohibits obnoxious practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers by companies, trade associations, and even individuals.

“Section 59 (1) and (2) prohibits any mutual understanding or decisions with a purpose or effect that prevents, restricts or distorts competition, specifically, and particularly including price-fixing or limiting distribution or supply.

“Section 108 (1) prohibits any arrangements that unduly limit the production, transportation, storage and or supply of products, including for the purpose of enhancing price,” the FCCPC cited. “Section 127 (1) prohibits supplying products at prices or on terms that are manifestly unfair, unreasonable or unjust.”

Meanwhile, the Commission has today agreed with LASCOPA, (and its expanding participation) on a Joint Inter-Agency Task Force to enforce the provisions of the law, ensure compliance and prevent hardship on citizens.

“The Commission possesses the will and desire and is committed to the strictest enforcement of the law. Product marketers have been informed that any infringement which distorts the market or enables others to exploit consumers and perpetuate inconvenience will be subject to the aggravated and highest spectrum of penalties where the evidence supports violation.”

The Commission said that organised marketing or trading associations/platforms such as MOMAN and the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) are invited to note this and their collective and individual possible exposure in the event of evidence-supported violations.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in noting the unsustainability of subsidy, assured that resources associated with subsidy will support more meaningful and continued efforts towards improved lives and living conditions of citizens.

“The Commission and collaborators identified herein will continue to engage and update consumers. Consumers are also invited to provide credible information about any conduct or practices they experience which they perceive may be a possible violation of the law.

According to the Commission, such information may be sent through our normal channels, in particular, [email protected].