October 31, 2018

FG Commences oil subsidy arrears payment process

FG Commences oil subsidy arrears payment process

A man carries jerrycans to search for fuel in Lagos, on May 21, 2015. Long queues formed at petrol stations across oil-rich Nigeria on May 21 following a row over subsidy payment to petrol importers as well as sale of government oil blocks to private investors, union officials said. AFP PHOTO

By Chris Ochayi

The Federal Government, Wednesday announced that it has commenced the process for the  settlement of oil subsidy arrears to the oil marketers through the promissory notes.

Determined to accelerate the payments of outstanding bills to the oil marketers, the Debt Management Office, DMO, has expressed its preparedness to meet with the oil marketers this month, November 2018.

This was a decision taken at a meeting between the Senate Committee on Downstream Petroleum Sector, the Federal Ministry of Finance, the Debt Management Office, DMO, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, and representatives of oil marketers held Wednesday in Abuja.

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The statement issued at the end of the meeting reads; Senate Committee on Downstream Petroleum Sector called a meeting of stakeholders on Wednesday, October 31, 2018 to discuss the issue of the outstanding payments to oil marketers. At the meeting were the Federal Ministry of Finance, the Debt Management Office (DMO), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and representatives of oil marketers.

“According to the Chairman of the Senate Committee, Senator Kabiru Marafa, the Committee called the meeting to ascertain the status of the implementation of the approvals given by the National Assembly for the settlement of arrears to oil marketers. The Committee also requested the CBN to confirm the position on a statement by oil marketers that there was an agreement to stop the accrual of interest on loans owed by the oil marketers to banks.

“The Senate Committee had earlier approved an amount to be paid to the oil marketers in July 2018, but the complete approval of the National Assembly, required by law for the issuance of Government Debt Securities, was only received when a resolution conveying the approval of the House of Representatives was issued on September 26, 2018. On the strength of the provisions of the law, therefore, implementation could not have commenced prior to September 26, 2018.

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“The obligations due to the oil marketers represent interest accruals and foreign exchange differentials.

“The Government of President Buhari, as one of its strategies to address inherited arrears to various contractors, approved the issuance of Promissory Notes to various categories of creditors. After the approval by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), the President presented a request to NASS, as required by the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007.

“The categories of creditors for whom the settlement of arrears was approved by FEC include pensioners and staff, contractors, construction companies, exporters, DisCos, GenCos, State Governments, Judgement Debts, as well as the petroleum marketers.

“To ensure Transparency and Value for Money to the Federal Government in the settlement of these arrears, FEC had specified the processes to be adopted in the issuance of the Promissory Notes, one of which is the validation of the claims by an International Accounting Firm operating in Nigeria.

“The benefits of this initiative by the current administration include the return by contractors to project sites, thereby improving infrastructure and creating jobs. Another benefit is that there would be an improvement in the ability of banks to lend to the real sector, since some of the creditors to be settled are indebted to banks and the issuance of the Promissory Notes will enable them to repay their debts to the banks.

“At the public hearing by the Senate, the DMO stated that it is fully committed to the realisation of Mr. President’s objectives and has, therefore, commenced the accelerated implementation of the Programme in line with the process approved by FEC. The DMO also indicated at the hearing that it would meet with the oil marketers in November 2018.”