The Federal Government has said it is in a tight corner over the prices of petrol and power, which are sore points in its discussion with Organised Labour.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, disclosed this on Sunday after a bipartite meeting of the Federal Government and Organised Labour at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
At the meeting where the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress represented the Organised Labour, Ngige said Labour had investigated the report of the Technical Committee on Premium Motor Spirit Pricing Framework as agreed at the last meeting and made its submissions, even as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation presented its report.
He said: “The Labour side saw that NNPC were making some points and like I said, it is work in progress.
“Governors are going to discuss this on Thursday.
“They have discussed this at the National Economic Council and so everybody is involved because we find ourselves in dire straits.
“There is no money for subsidy.
“The NNPC said what they are doing is import dependent.
“Deregulation is import dependent, but they are doing bulk purchasing.
“So, they can get discounts.
“They are also using foreign exchange that is discounted for them.
“They are not buying from the parallel market.
“All these things will be put in a basket and a price will emerge from it.”
Ngige said the Federal Government has finished with the organised labour on the issue of fuel price.
On the issue of electricity tariff, he disclosed that the meeting adopted the report of its Ad-hoc Technical Committee on Electricity Tariffs, made some adjustments and transformed the committee into an implementation committee to implement the recommendations made, including mass metering.
He said: “You will start seeing members of the committee with the Minister of Power going around now and making sure DisCos put meters for people because there are reports that they don’t want to be distributing meters and that they want to be doing bulk billing and estimated billings and we don’t want that.
“There is also a resolution as regards gas companies reducing gas pricing for gas sold to power companies, GenCos and the rest of them so that the price of electricity per unit will go down and the consumers will benefit from it.
“We have given the marching orders for them to do so.
“Some paper works have to be done and once that is done, price of electricity will go down and once it goes down, the consumers will benefit.”
Ngige said the committee also recommended that those forcefully migrated by distribution companies from lower paying bands C and D to upper bands A and B should petition the National Electricity Regulatory Commission, adding: “They will be brought back and the DisCo will be sanctioned.”
Ngige said the dialogue between the Federal Government and Labour has been adjourned to April as the two standing committees are still working.
Earlier, Secretary to the Federal Government, Boss Mustapha, thanked the Organised Labour for their sacrifices at this time of economic difficulty, which has been rewarded with Nigeria’s exit recession in the third quarter of 2020.
Mustapha said all the projections, including the reports of economic sustainability committee put in place with robust response to COVID-19 pandemic, provided clear evidence that Nigeria was on its way to exit recession in the first quarter of 2021 “but we beat them to it in the third quarter of 2020.
“This could not have been achieved without the support of the organised labour and the working population of the country because you were the one that drives the economy and ensured the petroleum sector, the lifeline of the country’s economy, is not disrupted.
“If we have had disruptions, it would have been difficult for us to exit recession in the first quarter of 2021 let alone the fourth quarter of 2020.”