The members of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) at a meeting in Abuja yesterday, criticised the Federal Government (FG) for not disbursing the subsidy payment claims of petroleum product marketers despite approval by the National Assembly since July.
The government agencies involved in the process were accused of intentionally delaying the process of paying the marketers what is due to them.
The Nigerian government has consistently said it has stopped paying subsidy on fuel but rather now pays funds for ‘under-recovery’ for differentials in the importation of fuel by marketers.
The Senate approved N348 billion for the payment of subsidy claims to oil marketing companies and other stakeholders based on a request by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The approval was enacted after the adoption of a report by the committee on the promissory note programme and bond issuance to settle inherited local debts and contractual obligations to petroleum marketers.
A total figure of N275.8 billion was approved for 55 verified oil marketers while 19 marketers “with contentious claims and verified figures” be paid 65 per cent of their claims, amounting to N73 billion, pending further investigation and verification by the committee.
However, in a reply about reports concerning non-payment of the subsidy claims, the Director-General, Debt Management Office (DMO), Patience Oniha, said while the payments were approved by the Senate in July, “the office did not receive communication from the Clerk to the National Assembly until September.”
She explained the processes through which the payments would be made were detailed in the request made to the Federal Executive Council, which was passed and forwarded to the National Assembly for approval.
According to Oniha, the processes are still ongoing while the DMO will engage the marketers by the middle of November.
The committee agreed the Ministry of Finance must convene a meeting of other government agencies and the marketers to reconcile claim figures and discuss ways of fast-tracking the payment of arrears.
The teams are to report back to the committee next week.