The Federal Government, yesterday, approved the payment of N413 billion to petroleum products marketers being the outstanding payment for subsidy claims, even as marketers insist they are owed about N470billion.
The development comes as the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, which is responsible for approving such claims revealed that it was yet to be notified of the payment.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, in a statement in Abuja, also said it has injected additional volumes of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, or petrol across the country to boost supply of the product and eliminate the long queues that have resurfaced in many parts of the country.
The statement, signed by the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Mr. Ohi Alegbe, noted that the payment of the outstanding N413 billion subsidy claims to oil marketers is part of the Government’s initiative of zero tolerance to fuel queues nationwide.
Alegbe said: ”It is our belief that with the outstanding payment due to oil marketers now assured, the marketers and other downstream players will join hands with the NNPC to guarantee that the nation remains wet with petroleum products all year round.”
A top management source at the PPPRA, who spoke with Vanguard on the telephone, said the Agency is not aware that approvals had been given for the payment of N413 billion to marketers.
He however admitted, “Although we have made recommendations on what to be paid to the Ministry of Finance, but have not yet got any feedback,” without giving more details into how much was recommended for payment.
When asked to justify whether oil marketers were truly owed N470 billion, as exclusively reported by Vanguard yesterday, the source said: “Marketers are entitled to their own opinion, just as we are entitled to our own based on the claim papers we have processed.
“What needs to be asked is, at what point are they making the claim because requests are being made on daily basis.”
Marketers told Vanguard that they are being owed about N470 billion in outstanding subsidy claims from August 1, 2014 till date.
But the PPPRA source noted that “Sometimes, marketers have only just made orders for supply of PMS, and even without dropping one litre of petrol in their tanks, they are already calculating how much they are being owed even without processing their claims.
“So it our duty to verify and certify their claims, on which basis we make recommendations to Finance to pay them.”
Increase in products supply
Meanwhile, Alegbe also said that in line with its drive to ensure zero fuel queues ahead of the forthcoming yuletide and beyond, NNPC is working diligently with other stakeholders for sustainable supply of products. These include its downstream subsidiary company, the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company, PPMC, and other downstream players to consolidate the prevailing stability in the supply and distribution of fuel nationwide.
He said: “Apart from increasing the volume of products distributed to stations across the country, inspection team from the PPMC have been commissioned to go round our operational areas to ensure compliance with laid down rules regarding loading and product evacuation across board to eliminate hoarding and other vices detrimental to the free flow of products.”
The Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, had earlier in the week lamented the fuel supply situation in some states in the country, warning that that any petroleum products depots and filling stations owners engaged in sharp practices would be fined heavily and also prosecuted for economic sabotage.
Director of the DPR, Mordecai Ladan, had in a statement in Abuja, warned oil marketers against products diversion, hoarding, pump manipulation and selling products above government approved prices.
According to Ladan, any petroleum products marketer found to be under-dispensing or selling products above government regulated prices shall be suspended for a minimum of two months.
He said, “Marketers caught diverting or hoarding the products for profiteering shall be sanctioned with a fine of two million naira and have their operating License revoked and prosecuted for national economic sabotage.”
Ladan also stated that the DPR is collaborating with the Petroleum Equilisation Fund (PEF) and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, to ensure that defaulters are sanctioned accordingly.
To this end, he stated that all DPR offices nationwide have been directed to step up their monitoring activity and ensure full compliance by marketers.