The Federal Government has given reason for the poor performance of petroleum refineries located in the country.
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, who featured as Special Guest on NAN Forum in Abuja, blamed the problem on payment of subsidy.
“Part of the reasons why the refineries were not working is subsidy because a refinery that is producing something at a certain cost and selling at a loss, how can it sustain itself.
“Over the years, the refineries couldn’t sustain themselves and all of them died. So, if you do not deregulate, you will find out that even the refineries, if you fix them today, they cannot be commercially operated because the refineries need maintenance and they need to run.
“If you are producing something and they are selling at a certain subsidised price, it cannot work that is why you see that the sector is not growing at all,’’ he noted.
He reiterated the need to deregulate the downstream sector through market-driven pricing of products to boost the country’s economy.
“I will say that my stand on fuel subsidy and deregulation is well known. I strongly believe that for this country to move forward, for our economy to make the progress it desires, we need to have a market-driven pricing of products.
“A situation where you produce something at a certain cost and you have to sell it at a lower cost to people because you are taking some of that burden off the people is not the best.
“It is a very desirable thing but it is also not too sustainable because what happens is that you produce it for N10, you sell it for N5; tomorrow, you produce it again at N10, you add N5 from somewhere, produce it again at N10 and sell it for another N5.
“So, the losses increase and compound on a daily basis and those accumulated losses have brought us to where we are,’’ he said.
According to him, people’s view that if the refineries are working, importation of product will stop is not the real issue on ground.
Sylva said that subsidy was part of the things that made the refineries to stop operating in the country.