The Federal Government on Saturday declared that it would pay oil marketers N236bn next Friday.

It said the payment was the first tranche of the outstanding N348bn subsidy claims that it owed members of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria and the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association.

The Chief Operating Officer, Downstream, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Henry Ikem-Obih, disclosed this to journalists after a meeting with officials of petroleum product marketers in Abuja.

Ikem-Obih stated that the remaining portion of the claims would be paid in 2019.

He said, “We agreed 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.

“Government is fully committed to pay the first tranche as promised and will be paid through promissory note that would be issued by the Debt Management Office.”

Ikem-Obih said the Federal Government had insisted on making the payments through promissory notes, which was equivalent to cash and could be liquidated almost immediately.

He said the decision to pay through promissory notes was based on the need to manage cash injection into the economy, as he noted that injecting cash of such magnitude into the economy might affect the country negatively.

He said the government would fully pay the oil marketers and had directed that there would be no deductions from the marketers’ account to settle debts owed government.

“Some oil marketing companies, DAPPMA and MOMAN members are indebted to Federal Government agencies, like the Federal Inland Revenue Service. But the government has directed that the debts should not be deducted from the payments. This is because if we do, most of the marketers would be left without a dime,” he added.

On the disparity between the N800bn as claimed by the oil marketers and the N348bn that was approved by the National Assembly, Ikem-Obih said the debt position of all the marketers to the government was considered and agreed upon as of June 30, 2018.

This, he said, was presented to the National Assembly for approval, which after consideration of the debts, approved the sum of N348bn.

The Chief Executive Officer/Executive Officer, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr Clement Isong, told one of our correspondents on Saturday that the government made some proposals at the meeting on Thursday on how to settle the outstanding debt and marketers requested some adjustments to the proposals by government.

He said, “We are expecting to hear from government on Monday, December 10, 2018.

“MOMAN had at no time issued an ultimatum or threat to stop operations or sales and will continue operations and sales to the public throughout the Christmas and end-of-year period while engagement with the government will continue in order to ensure that payment of what is due marketers is made as soon as possible to avoid the collapse of many stakeholders in the downstream petroleum sector.”

The NNPC also said on Saturday that discussions on the subsidy debt payment would be finalised on Monday.

The Chief Financial Officer, NNPC, Mr Isiaka Abdulrazaq, at a press briefing in Lagos, noted that an agreement was reached on Thursday that further engagement would take place on Monday around the details of what the interest rate on the promissory notes should be.

The Punch

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