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Fuel scarcity looms as Nigerian Govt owes marketers N100Bn

Fuel scarcity looms as Nigerian Govt owes marketers N100Bn

| On 04, Mar 2013

The nation may be thrown into another round of fuel scarcity as a result of mounting debts being owed oil marketers by the Federal Government.

Investigations by our correspondent on Sunday revealed that over N100bn was being owed independent oil marketers for petroleum products imported into the country between the last quarter of 2012 and February this year.

The development was confirmed by a senior official of  one of the oil marketers’ associations  during a telephone interview with our correspondent.

The official pleaded not to be named as his firm was one of the companies being owed subsidy claims by the Federal  Government.

He said the N100bn debt arose from claims owed about 43 independent oil marketing firms.

He added that the debt could rise to about N200bn if subsidy claims by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation was considered.

The official pointed out that the development, if not addressed urgently, might result into another round of fuel scarcity in the country.

He said, “The Federal Government still owes us money for fuel subsidy. As I speak to you, the other payment that we are being owed is over N100bn and this amount covers the last quarter of 2012 till now.

“There are about 42 or 43 oil marketers that have oil depots and these are the numbers being owed.

“We borrow money from banks to import fuel into this country and they continue to owe us billion of naira.

“The more they delay in paying us our claims, the higher the interest rates from the banks.”

He said apart from the bulk payment that was made from the N161bn fuel subsidy supplementary budget of 2012, no other payment had been made.

The Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had shortly after the passage of the bill in December by the National Assembly said that a total of N94bn for 23 oil marketers had been paid.

The minister had on January 8, 2013 said while 23 marketers had been paid; the claims of 27 others were being processed.

She had said, “As of now (January 8), 23 marketers have done their paper work so they may still have outstanding claims because we do them in batches through the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency and the Debt Management Office.

“Some of them who have cleared may also come back because I have a list of 27 marketers for the remainder of the money, but some of them have already featured under this 23 and they may have to come back.”

When reminded about the payment made by the Federal Government in January, the source said the money was used to settle outstanding marketers’ claims that arose from the Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede committee’s report.

“In the wake of the Imokhuede report, there were some payments that were suspended. When the figures were reconciled, that supplementary budget was used to pay those claims. There is no news yet on subsidy payment between last quarter and now,” he said.

The official also said the delay by President Goodluck Jonathan to assent the 2013 budget, which had a provision of N971bn for fuel subsidy, might have caused the non-payment.

culled from the Nigerian Punch

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