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No More Fuel Imports Until… –Marketers

Posted: May 15, 2015 at 1:27 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

•Abuja Chamber Laments Impact Of Scarcity

By Phillip Oladunjoye (Lagos) and Chibuzor Emejor (Abuja)


In what may mean that there is yet no end in sight to the lingering fuel queue across the country, importers of petroleum products under the aegis of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) and Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA), on Thursday, warned that their members would no longer import fuel until the $1 billion balance of subsidy payments is made by the Federal Government.

Addressing a joint press conference in Lagos, Executive Secretaries of both associations, insisted that until all subsidy and accruable interests owed their members are settled, they would not import fuel.

They blamed government for the lingering fuel scarcity, recalling that for over two weeks that the scarcity has persisted, Abuja has not deemed it necessary to call both associations to the dialogue table to resolve the issues.

Despite the recent payment of about N154 billion announced by Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on May 3, they insisted that the Federal Government still owes their members over N200 billion.

The Minister however put government’s outstanding debt at N131 billion.

According to the Executive Secretary of DAPPMA, Olufemi Adewole: “We are being owed huge sum of money by the Federal Government. The money is attracting interest. We are appealing to the Federal Government to pay our members so that we can continue to do our business.”

He explained that out of its 40 members, only 24 participate in the subsidy programme, adding that while all its members had been paid the subsidy elements of the debt, only six 24 had received their interest payment.

Explaining further, the Executive Secretary of MOMAN, Obafemi Olawore said: “Because of the huge outstanding that we have… because we have not been able to pay back the (bank) loans we have taken… because our suppliers are not too confident (any more in us), we are unable to bring fresh imports.

“Whatever we have now is what we have received from NNPC (Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation), and it is the small quantity that we have from NNPC, that is why you see all the trucks in Lagos scrambling for them,” he added.

MOMAN and DAPPMA lamented that their last meeting with the Minister of Finance did not produce the desired result, following which the Minister inaugurated a committee to look at the claims by the marketers.

They expressed worry as to why the subsidy claim already verified almost three months ago in February by the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) is now still being subjected to another committee to verify, before passing its findings to the same PPPRA, which would then forward same to the Debt Management Office (DMO) for payment.

Continuing, they suspect that government is employing delay tactics to avoid paying them, while the Goodluck Jonathan administration winds down.

The marketers spoke of plans to meet the incoming government of Muhammadu Buhari to table their case, just in case the present administration fails to pay them for products already imported, before May 29.

Olawore, said the scarcity of fuel was responsible for the gridlock being experienced along the Apapa-Oshodi expressway, because tankers come from all over the country to load petroleum products from Lagos. Apart from Lagos, he explained, there is no depot in any part of the country that has fuel.

Reacting to the lingering scarcity of products across the country, the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), also on Thursday, lamented that it is negatively impacting businesses.

A statement by the President of ACCI, Tony Ejinkeonye, said owing to the scarcity and deterioration in public power supply, especially in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, businesses are losing lifeblood daily.

One visible impact of the perennial fuel scarcity, he said, is that it has impaired the productivity of employees, shrinking operations of businesses and increasing costsa as well as engendering staff layouts.

Also as a result of the poor power supply and scarcity of petroleum products, following which many have had to pay above the official pump price, he said “operational costs have skyrocketed beyond projections, following the associated increased in transportation cost.

“These costs are being passed on to consumers, and where they are unable to absorb or resist such increases, businesses have had to scale down activities or reduce staff strength to accommodate the said costs.

“Social cohesion and security have not been spared either as many small scale entrepreneurs and artisans who depend largely on thrift contributions have been unable to keep up with their daily contributions and this has had severe consequences for savings and business finances not only for them but also for the micro-financers and their bigger regular commercial banks,” he added.

Continuing, Ejinkonye noted that “the real cost in terms of lost revenue have been confirmed by the National Bureau of Statistics to be in excess of N500 million weekly.”

He therefore appealed to the Federal Government to urgently address the fuel scarcity to ensure a conducive operating environment for businesses to thrive.