Nigeria has cleared fuel import subsidy payments that were held up, while authorities verified they were for genuine deliveries as part of efforts to combat fraud, Ministry of Finance said Wednesday.
Nigeria’s Finance Minister said last week she had ordered a “slow down” to fuel subsidy payments to allow checks to stop scams that have cost the nation billions of dollars.
Fuel shippers say they are facing delays at import terminals, while their subsidy payments are scrutinised, and some private firms have halted deliveries, while others are relying on swaps for crude oil to receive payments.
Minister of State for Finance, Yerima Ngama, said: “Following the recommendation of the committee set up to verify and reconcile the claims, the ministry has now resumed payment of claims. “I want marketers to know that claims have now been processed and payment to be made subsequently.”
A parliamentary probe into the subsidy scheme, released last month, found it was riddled with fraud that had cost Nigeria $6.8 billion in just three years— equal to a quarter of the national budget.
The report is now in doubt, as Chairman of the House of Representatives committee, Mr. Farouk Lawan, is being questioned by police over allegations he took bribe from a fuel marketer to keep him off the list of fraudulent beneficiaries.
Ngama also revealed that Nigeria now has only N370 billion ($2.28 billion) left as allocation for payment of fuel subsidies this year, heightening fears it will be unable to pay or will have to borrow heavily to do it.
Nigeria spent 900 times more than the budget for subsidy last year. Central Bank Governor, Lamido Sanusi has said provisions for the subsidy will run out well before year end.