02 January 2014, Lagos – The Federal Government is said to have settled outstanding subsidy claims up to the second quarter of last year. However, only the major marketers are the main beneficiaries of this settlement, leaving most of the independent claims still outstanding.
Confirming the development while speaking with journalists in Lagos, the Executive Secretary, Major Oil Marketers’ Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, Mr. Obafemi Olawore, said this is the reason why there are no fuel shortages in the market.
Although he could not state exactly how much the government paid, Olawore noted that the payment helped marketers to bring in vessels laden with products last month, which boosted stock and ensured availability of petrol throughout the festive period.
He noted that if the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, could continue in this manner, even the interests accruable on banks loans would be paid off in no time.
Olawore said: “We really must thank and commend the minister for settling all the outstanding claims up to the Q2, 2013.
“If you pay the interest without paying the capital, eventually, it will accumulate with some interests. So, we thank the Minister of Finance for paying.
“If she continues in this manner, we won’t have any problems even with the interests accruable on the bank loans, as these would be reduced significantly.”
MOMAN members include oil marketing companies such as Mobil Oil Plc, Total Plc, MRS Plc, Forte Oil Plc, Conoil Oil Plc, Oando Plc, NIPCO Plc, and Sahara Group
Two of the majors, Oando and Forte Oil, received over N35 billion outstanding subsidy claims for the 2ndquarter.
While Oando received N21 billion, Forte Oil got N14 billion, adding that he was yet to get payment details for the remaining marketers.
The MOMAN boss, while expressing appreciation to the Coordinating Minister for the Economy for the payment of the claims, also requested that the Minister look into the payment of outstanding claims for other petroleum marketers, to consolidate on the gains of the current products supply in the market.
Recall that MOMAN had, in June this year, threatened to stop importation of petrol due to the non-payment of their N40.6 billion subsidy claims by the Federal Government.
The non-payment of the claims, Olawore lamented, had made it difficult for marketers to continue to do business, as they relied on bank loans for petrol imports.
With regard to how marketers fared during the year, he said that 2013 was a tough year because of undue delays in subsidy payments, but expressed the hope that Year 2014 would be better.
According to him, “The moment government paid us, a lot of vessels were brought in and the stock level rose from between one and two days to 10 days. At some point, it was only the NNPC that was bringing in products because other importers stopped as a result of non-payment of subsidy.”
However, NNPC was not bringing in enough vessels. They (NNPC) tried their best to keep the country wet with products but at a point we were not getting enough petrol from them.
“But when NNPC brings in products, apart from the major marketers (Mobil, Total, Oando, Conoil, MRS and Forte), they give to Aiteo, NIPCO and Honeywell but we do our best to share it for the overall interest of the industry.
“To ensure continued uninterrupted supply of product and eliminate scarcity, timely payment of subsidy claims, foreign exchange component and interest is imperative.”
– Clara Nwachukwu, Vanguard