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Published On: Wed, Mar 26th, 2014

Fuel scarcity: Senate slams Okonjo-Iweala over delayed subsidy payment

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  • As NNPC distributes 200m litres to depots

By Ikechukwu Okaforadi

The Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) has criticised the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, for delaying the payment of subsidy claims to fuel importers, which has resulted in resurgence of queues in the fuel stations across the country.

Speaking yesterday during the 2014 budget defence by the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), the committee’s Vice Chairman, Danjuma Goje, said that information at their disposal has revealed that the ministry of finance delayed payment of subsidy claims to oil marketers.

He said that if the President is serious about tackling the fuel scarcity in the country, there should be prompt payment of subsidy claims to oil marketers for products which they have already supplied.

Goje, who condemned the delay which has generated queues in the fuel stations, said that the minister of finance should, in the interest of Nigerians, do her works properly to avoid the challenges.

He called for measures to be put in place to accordingly sanction those who are guilty of any shortcomings in discharging their duties to Nigerians, irrespective of their positions in the country.

According to him, “We should guard against this practice where we don’t do our work promptly. Once you have a loophole somewhere it takes days it takes time before that incident is overcome.

“It’s a shame that, even to import fuel fuel we are still having problems.

And if it is because somebody is not doing their job he should be fish out this individual who failed to do his job and punish them to serve as a deterrent”, Goje said.

However, responding to questions concerning the resumed fuel scarcity, the Executive Secretary of PPPRA, Faruk Ahmed, admitted that the oil marketer were owed their subsidy claims, but said they were paid last week for the products earlier supplied.

He said this delay in payment of their subsidy actually made some of them to cut down the quantity of the product they import, especially given that they were unable to get the credit to sustain their import level.

According to him, “Before then some of the marketers were finding it difficult to secure credit lines in order to open letters of credit to bring their importation. But I understand that payments were made last week”.

Ahmed also said nine vessels are currently distributing about N200 million litres of fuel to the various petrol depots across the country, adding that the queues were largely as a result of panic buying by Nigerians due to rumoured plan by government to deregulate the oil sector.

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