Uche Usim (Abuja) and Adewale Sanyaolu (Lagos)
Following threats by oil marketers to shutdown operations over outstanding N800 billion unpaid subsidy claims, the Federal Government, on Saturday, said it would pay them N236 billion next Friday (December 14), as the first tranche of the outstanding N348 billion subsidy backlogs.
Speaking after a meeting with officials of petroleum product marketers in Abuja yesterday, the Chief Operating Officer, Downstream of the NNPC, Mr. Henry Ikem-Obih, revealed that another tranche of the claims would be paid in 2019, after a meeting between the oil marketers and the Federal Ministry of Finance that would be
scheduled in the New Year.
He assured Nigerians that the NNPC was fully ready to ensure stable supply of petroleum products during the Yuletide period and beyond, stating that presently, the corporation has over 2.8 billion litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), which would last the country for 55 days while 90,000 metric tonnes of diesel, imported by the Petroleum Products Marketing Company, PPMC, and NNPC Retail, would arrive the country in the next couple of days.
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Meanwhile, the Depots and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN), yesterday, denied reaching any agreement with the Federal Government over the settlement of the fuel subsidy arrears owed its members.
The Federal Government had in a statement signed last week by the Special Assistant on Media and Communications to the Minister of Finance, Mr. Paul Abechi, claimed that it had agreed on the settlement terms of the N800 billion subsidy claims owed marketers.
But the Executive Secretary of DAPPMAN, Mr. Olufemi Adewole, maintained that the meeting it had with the Federal Goernment ended in a deadlock as the offers made by the FG failed to meet the legitimate demands of the association.
He said the earlier seven-day ultimatum issued to the Federal Government by the oil marketers still stands, adding that its declaration to quit depots across the country would equally be effected.
“The only way to salvage the situation is for government to pay the oil marketers the outstanding debts through cash option instead of promissory note being proposed. As I speak, nothing has been done several months after assurances received by government saying it would pay off the outstanding debts. The oil marketers have requested that forex differential and interest component of government’s indebtedness to marketers be calculated up to December 2018 and be paid within next seven days from the date of the letter sent to the government.
“We urge the Debt Management Office (DMO) to process and pay marketers in cash for their outstanding forex differentials and interest component claims, together with the amount already approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and the National Assembly,” he said.
At the end of yesterday’s meeting with the marketers, Ikem-Obih, however, explained that an agreement had been reached that after the first tranche is paid, the marketers would form a committee to work on details of how the next tranche will be paid in 2019 and the last tranche in 2020.
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He stressed that, “government is fully committed to paying the first tranche as promised and will be paid through promissory note that would be issued by the DMO.”
According to him, the Federal Government had insisted on making the payments through promissory notes, which was equivalent to cash and can be liquidated almost immediately, because of the need to manage cash injection into the economy.