Scarcity: Buhari asks N/Assembly to approve N413bn subsidy claims

*Fuel scarcity hits economy harder.

*Fuel scarcity hits economy harder.

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

18 November 2015, Sweetcrude, Abuja – President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the National Assembly to approve the payment of their N413 billion subsidy claims by marketers, in a bid to ease mounting scarcity of petroleum products across the country.

Marketers have indicated that the payment will be the key to ending the crippling petrol scarcity in many cities.

According to the Senior Special Assistant, Media, to the President, Mallam Garba Shehu, the President “is desirous to end the petrol scarcity. But he insists that due process must be followed.”

However, a source at the Presidency has observed that only about N140 billion was appropriated for subsidy payment in the current budget and it has been exhausted.

He added that out of respect for the parliament, the President insisted that the right thing must be done by seeking approval from the National Assembly before an additional kobo is paid in excess of what the budget makes provision for.

“This is a clear departure from the past, when extra-budgetary expenditure was the norm,” he noted.

SweetcrudeReports investigation reveals that petrol is being sold for between N100 and N400 per litre in various parts of the country, even as queues at filling stations are getting longer due to refusal of some marketers to sell the product. Many others are shut for lack of supplies.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) expressed the hope that with the outstanding payment due to oil marketers now assured, the marketers and other downstream players will join hands with the corporation to guarantee that the nation remains wet with petroleum products all year round.

The NNPC’s Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Mr. Ohi Alegbe, said the Corporation trucked out over 25,042,686 litres of premium motor spirit (PMS) to various parts of the country yesterday.

According to the data made available by the NNPC spokesman, which showed the depots from where the fuel was loaded, companies that took delivery of the product, the number of the vehicle that lifted the product and the quantity lifted, 615 filling stations got 25,042,686 litres. They include majors, such as Total, Mobil, Oando, MRS, Conoil and Forte Oil. The NNPC Retail and independents, including NIPCO and Eterna, among many others, especially in Gombe, also got supplies.

Suleja depot loaded 7,178,613 litres for 179 stations, Kaduna depot 2,470 490 litres for 59 stations, Kano 4,930,847 litres for 107 filling stations, Minna depot 224,986 litres for six stations, Gusau 2,311 951 litres (60 stations), and Satellite depot, which feeds Lagos State, 2,164,940 (63 stations).

Others include Ilorin depot 303,000 litres (nine stations), Ore 110,989 litres (three stations), Ibadan depot, 766,007 (21 stations), Gombe area, which has the highest number of independent stations got 3,662,893 litres (78 stations) and Aba depot, 917,970 litres (30 filling stations).

Meanwhile, the marketers are hopeful that if the N413 billion subsidy cash is disbursed, the fuel scarcity will be over. But they also complained of lack of foreign exchange to facilitate importation of products.

A marketer lamented that, “We cannot access dollar or pound sterling to import. The banks have refused to give us letters of credit because they don’t have confidence that we will pay back. It is only the NNPC that imports and what they import is grossly inadequate.

“The issue is that many independent depots and retail outlets don’t have products because the NNPC only gives product to marketers accredited as bulk buyers.”

He added that, “The fuel marketing arm of the oil industry is gradually collapsing because most of the oil marketing firms currently operate at about 30 per cent capacity utilisation. Some of our depots that load around 150 trucks daily have dropped to 40 trucks daily.

“If the current supply situation is not addressed quickly, the Yuletide will be celebrated without fuel, and you know the implication.”

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