19 February 2012, Sweetcrude, ZURICH – The Nigerian government says it has pruned down the number of companies involved in the importation of petroleum products into the country under its new subsidy regime by limiting it to only a few genuine companies that have fuel depots and other facilities for petroleum products business.
This follows recent public outcry against the fraud in the administration of the fuel subsidy and the call for greater transparency in the subsidy regime in particular and the oil industry in general, Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister fo the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who disclosed this in Zurich, Switzerland, at the weekend, insisted that only the companies that were well-known to be engaged in that business would be allowed to participate.
Effectively, the over 100 “briefcase” companies that appeared at the House of Representatives public hearing on fuel subsidy management have been eliminated in the new regime which Dr. Okonjo-Iweala said would be open for monitoring by all Nigerians.
She said that the Ministry of Petroleum, working in collaboration with the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) would announce the list of approved oil companies to import fuel, shortly. Her words: “Let me explain that since we are under a partial subsidy phase out regime, that means that we still have to maintain some subsidy. It is important for Nigerians to know that things will be done differently. That the Ministry of Petroleum, the PPPRA are looking at a new way of managing the subsidy, there will be a more limited group of marketers, those who have genuine business in the sector and are known; who have depots and are known in the industry.
“They will look at criteria, restrict the number, limit it to a smaller number that can be more easily monitored and I think all these will be published so that Nigerians will see. “So, we are looking forward to the PPPRA publishing this. We are not going to be administering subsidy in the old way where so many companies, more than 100 companies were involved.
“Now, we are going to have a more limited number; we are going to know who they are; the amount of fuel they are going to be importing into the country and every Nigerian will be able to follow and this will be published. So the new subsidy regime will be different from the old one”.
According to Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, it would be better for the Nigerian public and the economy for a few honest companies with capacity to deliver to import fuel in an efficient manner than have an unwieldy crowd where it was difficult to monitor what was happening.
The minister who was in Zurich on a road show to reassure Nigeria’s Eurobond investors of the safety of their investments, urged global fund managers to invest in the Nigerian economy, which she said has unequalled potentials in terms of returns.
She said that with a population of over 160 million people, there was a ready market for goods and services within the country, as well as among her West African neighbourhood. In his remarks, the Director-General, Debt Management Office (DMO), Dr. Abraham Nwankwo explained that the road show was to brief international investors, who invested in the Nigerian Eurobond last year and global fund managers, on the progress the Nigerian economy has made in the last one year.