Subsidy: Senate probe reveals fresh N108bn debts to oil marketers

*Fuel dispenser.

*Fuel dispenser.

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

02 December 2015, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Senate probe of the subsidy regime has revealed that a fresh N108 billion covering three months fuel subsidy claims to oil marketers was not contained in the 2015 supplementary budget presented to the National Assembly by the Buhari administration.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Jamila Suara made the disclosure during a public hearing organised by the Senate Committee on Appropriation to consider the request of President Muhammadu Buhari for a N465 billion 2015 supplementary budget.

Buhari had in the supplementary budget, requested for approval of N413billion for payment of subsidy from January to September 2015.

By the new disclosures, oil marketers are now being owed N521 billion in subsidy claims.

The Senate Committee on Appropriation chaired by Sen. Danjuma Goje has therefore directed the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and other relevant stakeholders to harmonise all budget claims to include payment for October to December 2015.

The Senate also asked the NNPC to breakdown the details of the amounts being paid to each of the independent marketers rather than the blanket sum that was submitted.

The Senate queried why the supplementary did not include the last quarter of 2015 stressing that the country could not risk another scarcity of petroleum products due to non-payment for the months.

The committee while expressing displeasure at the seeming lack of synergy between the relevant stakeholders, directed them to go back and harmonise their figures and submit later.

The Senate therefore directed the ministry to provide details of issues relating to subsidy payment from the last quarter of 2014 till date.

“This government is about change; change from sordid past; change is to totally eliminate queues from our filling stations; every person must play a role to effect positive changes in the economy.

“We need the audit details for the purpose of oversight. Nothing stops us from going back to the issues even after the approval of the supplementary budget.”

“We need to know the beneficiaries of the subsidy, and how they came about it,” he said.
Later in an interview with newsmen, Sen. Goje said that the Committee upon receiving the reconciled figures will harmonise its report and submit to the Senate at plenary.

In her remarks, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Jamila Soara, explained that the Minister, Ibe Kachikwu, was in Lagos, holding meetings with the major oil marketers.

She clarified that the major oil marketers imported 52 per cent of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) while the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the NNPC was importing 48 per cent.

Given a breakdown of the proposed N413 billion, she said that N120.552 billion was amounts outstanding from 2014 and N292.8 billion for subsidy from January to September 2015.

“We just called the attention of the budget office to the fact that the proposal for the last quarter had not really been captured because it was about N108 billion,” she said.

She pleaded for the understanding of the Committee stressing that the documents were prepared before the minister and permanent secretary assumed office.

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Mr Udo Udoma, requested that the ministry, Ministry of Petroleum and Finance Ministry be allowed to meet and reconcile the figures.

The proposed reconciliation will likely include the addition of the N108 billion projected as subsidy claims for the month of October to December 2015 not captured in the proposed N413 billion.

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