By Dipo Olowookere
Oil marketers in the country will begin to receive payments for their subsidy arrear claims from Friday, December 14, 2018, federal government has assured.
This decision was reached during a meeting between officials of government and the oil marketers at the State House Conference Centre in Abuja.
The oil marketers, under the umbrellas of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria and the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association, had threatened to stop loading fuel if government fails to pay the debts worth N800 billion, but government has promised to pay N236 billion.
Addressing newsmen after the meeting, the Chief Operating Officer, Downstream of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Henry Ikem-Obih, said, “We agreed that after the first tranche is paid, the marketers would form a committee to work on details of how the next tranche will be paid in 2019 and the last tranche in 2020.
“Government is fully committed to pay the first tranche as promised and will be paid through promissory note that would be issued by the Debt Management Office (DMO),”
He declared that the Federal Government had insisted on making the payments through promissory notes, which was equivalent to cash and can be liquidated almost immediately.
Mr Ikem-Obih said the decision to pay through promissory notes was based on the need to manage cash injection into the economy, noting that injecting cash of that magnitude into the economy might affect the country negatively.
The NNPC downstream boss said the mode of settlement had been agreed between the federal government and the oil marketers since 2017,adding that the decision was not new.
He noted that government had decided to pay the money to the oil marketers in full and had directed that there would be no deductions from the marketers’ account to settle debts owed government.
Mr Ikem-Obih said, “Some oil marketing companies, DAPPMA and MOMAN members are indebted to federal government agencies, like the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, but the government had directed that the debts should not be deducted from the payments. This is because if we do, most of the marketers would be left without a dime.” Explaining the disparity between the N800billion claimed by the oil marketers and the N348 billion approved by the National Assembly, the downstream chief executive said the debt position of all the marketers to the government where considered and agreed upon as at June 30,2018 and presented to the National Assembly for approval, which after consideration of the debts, approved the sum of N348 billion.
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