05 March 2014, Lagos – As the fuel scarcity enters the fourth day, with commuters and motorists in Lagos and its environs subjected to severe hardship, marketers, yesterday, denied hoarding the product. They, however, blamed the current scarcity on the delay in the release of the first quarter import allocations.
The marketers said: “We cannot hoard what we don’t have, government should avoid fire brigade approach to importation of petroleum products since we do not refine petrol in Nigeria.”
Another marketer attributed the unofficial price hike to increase in the ex-depot price from N91.50 kobo to N95 per litre. Added to other ancillary costs, he said that pump price is now between N100 and N105 per litre. “For instance, the union fees, which was 30 kobo, now hovers around 50 kobo. The transport cost has also increased”, he said.
However, the current situation is beyond the monitoring of outlets, as according to the marketers, “Federal Government could have avoided this current scarcity if they really wanted to.”
Those who spoke with Vanguard in confidence recalled that marketers have been raising alarm of the impeding scarcity since the delay in the release of the Q4 allocations last year as well as the non-payment of outstanding subsidy claims, which are now in arrears for two quarters.
They noted: “If there is no allocation, you cannot go to the DPR to get import licence. Without the import licence, you cannot open a Form M. Without the Form M, you cannot approach the banks to open Letters of Credit, LC, for you to import. Without the LC, there is no dollar to buy the product and what you have left are empty depots and empty filling stations.”
Beyond the release of the quarterly allocations by the PPPRA, there are also the outstanding issues of reimbursement through subsidy claims as well as accruing banks’ interest charges, which are unresolved.
Added to these, is the non-approval of the 2014 national budget, which according to the marketers, is a drawback for all businesses, as expenditure for each sector of the economy is derived from the budgetary allocations.
“This is March, and the budget is not yet approved; of course, this will affect every other projection for the year,” an independent depot operator said.