Nigeria Employersâ€™ Consultative Association (NECA) has called on the federal government to take a decisive stand on the privatisation of the nationâ€™s refineries, describing governmentâ€™s continued involvement in the running of the refineries as economic waste
Director General of NECA, Mr. Segun Oshinowo, who made the call at an interactive session with journalist at the weekend in Lagos, said government cannot afford to continue to spend huge amount on turn-around maintenance(TAM) of the refineries, which presently add little or no real value to the economy.
Oshinowo, who expressed concern over the manner in which government has been foot dragging on privatising the nationâ€™s four refineries insisted that governmentâ€™s policy thrust should not be defined by the resistance of one economic actor.
According to him, it makes no economic sense for the government to continue to run the refineries which can be better managed by private sector, wondering why the federal government is fidgeting in taking this all-important decision for the good of the economy.
The privatisation of the refineries, he said is more compelling in view of the fact that, they have remained in comatose stage and failed under governmentâ€™s management.
â€œGovernment has not been quite decisive on which direction to go regarding the privatisation of the refineries. Of what benefit is it for us to have refineries that are not producing up to capacity, refineries that are gulping huge amount all in the name of turn-around maintenance that will not produce any result,” he said.
He asked: â€œWhat is wrong with privatising the refineries? How will government eventually be able to stop the importation of petrol if it fails to privatise the refineries? How will government be able to create an environment where more Nigerians will invest in private refineries so that we can stop this ridiculous and embarrassing long standing issue of importing petrol for an oil exporting country that is the seventh in the world?”
He advised government to kick start the process by engaging all stakeholders in the industry like it did in the privatisation of the electricity sector. The process, he added should be done publicly and transparently to avoid any setback.
He also advised the unions who had opposed the planned sale of the refineries to consider buying some of the assets stressing that there are countries in the world where trade unions hold significant investment in refineries.
â€œLet government adopt the same process it used in privatizing PHCN and involve those who are saying no to privatisation. And those who are saying no have the economic mind to buy those refineries. If they believe so much in it why canâ€™t they also believe in the big process. The way to go is to privatise those refineries,â€ Oshinowo added.