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FG Pledges to Pay Oil Marketers N236bn on Friday

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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.

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Economy

Nigerians Can’t Wait for Buhari’s Seven Days, Crisis Looming – Experts

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By Eric Elezuo

Following the disappearance of naira notes from the Nigerian business circle, human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, as well as a professor of Economics, University of Uyo, Edet Akpakpan, have asked Nigerians to reject the request by the President to be given seven days to resolve the new naira scarcity, warning that the patience of Nigerians will not last the proposed seven days, and eruption of crisis may take centre stage.

Speaking with Saturday PUNCH, Falana said it was obvious that the CBN did not print sufficient quantities of the new naira notes, and wondered what magic Buhari planned to perform within seven days.

The lawyer demanded that the CBN should scrap the deadline for the phasing out of the old naira notes, while the old notes it mopped up from circulation should be returned to Nigerians.

He said, “Nigerians can’t wait for seven days. People are fighting in the banks; somebody died in Agbor in Delta; soldiers are attacking students; a woman stripped herself naked because the ordinary people cannot get money. And El-Rufai said somebody collected N500m. No bank has been given N500m new notes! No bank, you can quote me! So, he should name the person, who has not only sabotaged the policy of the government, but has also engaged in money laundering.

“The government wants to dodge responsibilities. The government of the day must take responsibility. Who does Buhari want to consult in seven days? They do not have sufficient new notes. For that reason, they cannot maintain the deadline. So, Nigerians must be allowed to spend the old money, which they have collected from them. The CBN must return the old notes to Nigerians!”

According to Falana, the policy will not stop monetisation of elections as the rich will always have access to naira, while the masses suffer.

He said, “It is a bundle of confusion and it simply confirmed that this was not well thought out. They were just all about preventing monetisation of elections; they didn’t consider the impact on the masses.

“Some of the presidential candidates have banks and bank managers will take the money to their houses. So, it doesn’t stop monetisation of elections. They are just punishing the ordinary people. Have you seen any big man in bank queues for money? The rich can always have money in their homes.”

A professor of Economics, University of Uyo, Edet Akpakpan, urged the Federal Government to resolve the situation to avert imminent crisis.

He also enjoined banks to desist from favouring influential people against the poor through the issuance of higher denominations.

Akpakpan stated, “The idea is good but the implementation is poor as they are not ready. The situation has to be arrested or else it will be terrible, especially as we move closer to the general elections. There is a need for the CBN to make resources available.

“And again the banks should be warned not to be biased with the way the funds are issued. Let them not favour some big men over the common man. We need to stop such things. I support this policy, but the implementation has to be re-organised.”

It would be recalled that Buhari, while receiving the governors voted on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who paid him a working visit at the Aso Rock Villa, had canvass for a solution to alleviate the hardship Nigerians are going through, said he would need seven days to come out with a decision, blaming banks of compromising the process.

“Some banks are inefficient and only concerned about themselves…even if a year is added, the problems associated with selfishness and greed won’t go away,” Buhari told the Progressive Governors’ Forum members.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, disclosed this in a statement titled, ‘President Buhari asks for seven days for a major decision on currency redesign’.

The President said he had seen reports on television about cash shortages and hardship to local businesses and ordinary people, and promised that the balance of seven of the 10-day extension would be used to crack down on whatever stood in the way of the successful implementation.

“I will revert to the CBN and the Minting Company. There will be a decision one way or the other in the remaining seven days of the 10-day extension,” the President was quoted as saying.

The governors had earlier told the President that although they supported his decision to renew the naira, the execution had been botched and their constituents were becoming increasingly upset.

They said as leaders of the government and party in their respective states, they were becoming anxious about a slump in the economy and the series of elections that were coming.

Nigerians await with apprehension what the coming week will unfold as anger has permeated the minds of citizens, the address of Central Bank of Nigeria governor, Godwin Emefiele on Friday notwithstanding.

Additional information: The Punch

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Economy

Fuel Scarcity: FG Raises 14-Man Panel for Solution

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The Federal Government is meeting with operators in the midstream and downstream oil sector as part of measures towards developing strategic stock for Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, in key locations across the country.

It said the national strategic stocks would help in addressing the recurring fuel scarcity in Nigeria, as it also announced the constitution of a 14-man committee to find a lasting solution to the disruptions in the supply and distribution of petroleum products.

The Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources stated that President Muhammadu Buhari, had approved the  constitution of a 14-man Steering Committee on Petroleum Products Supply and Distribution Management, which he would personally chair.

The ministry said the move was to find lasting solution to the disruptions in the supply and distribution of petroleum products across the country.

It said the committee had the Minister of State for Petroleum Resource, Chief Timipre Sylva, as Alternate Chairman, as the team would ensure transparent and efficient supply and distribution of petroleum products.

“Other terms of reference are to ensure national strategic stock management, visibility on the NNPC Limited refineries rehabilitation programme and ensure end-to-end tracking of petroleum products, especial PMS, to ascertain daily national consumption and eliminate smuggling,” the FMPR stated in a statement.

To ensure sanity in the supply and distribution across the value chain, Sylva directed the NMDPRA to ensure strict compliance with the government approved ex-depot and retail prices for PMS.

The ministry stated that other members of the committee include the Minister of Finance; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources; National Economic Adviser to the President; and Director-General, Department of State Services.

Others include the Comptroller-General, Nigerian Customs Service; Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission; and Commandant-General, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps.

The Chief Executive, NMDPRA; Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria; Group Chief Executive Officer, NNPC Limited; Special Advisor (Special Duties) to the HMSPR; were also listed as members of the committee, while the Technical Advisor (Midstream) to the HMSPR would serve as secretary.

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Economy

CBN Raises Interest Rate to 17.5%

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The Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria has voted to increase the benchmark interest rate by 100 basis points to 17.5 per cent.

The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, disclosed this while reading the communiqué of the first MPC meeting of the year on Tuesday.

This is the fifth time the CBN would increase the interest rate despite advice from manufacturers and some key stakeholders.

The CBN said previous increases were beginning to yield results with the slight drop in the inflation rate recorded in December 2022.

However, the CBN stressed that there was a need to keep tightening its fiscal policy.

The CBN keeps the asymmetric corridor at +100/-700 basis points around the MPR.

The CBN also retained the CRR at 32.5 per cent while the liquidity ratio was kept at 30 per cent.

The apex bank had increased the MPR from 11.5 per cent earlier last year to 16.5 per cent across four consecutive rate hikes in 2022.

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