Confusion in Senate over N11tn subsidy payment to marketers

Confusion in Senate over N11tn subsidy payment to marketers

The sum of N11 trillion paid to oil marketers as subsidiary claims in the last six years by the federal government on Thursday caused confusion in the Senate. The ding-dong which lasted for a moment, however did not prevent the the lawmakers approving additional N129bn payment as subsidy claims to 67 petroleum marketers. The upper


The sum of N11 trillion paid to oil marketers as subsidiary claims in the last six years by the federal government on Thursday caused confusion in the Senate.

The ding-dong which lasted for a moment, however did not prevent the the lawmakers approving additional N129bn payment as subsidy claims to 67 petroleum marketers.

PRESIDENT MUHAMMADUBBUHARI

The upper chamber took the decision while considering the report of its Committee on the Downstream Petroleum Sector.

The presentation of Committee report on the downstream oil sector by the Chairman of the Committee, Kabir Marafa, heightened the tension.

He lamented the federal government has already paid N11 trillion to oil marketers as subsidy in the last six years, adding that the development, if not halted, could kill the nation’s economy.

Recall that the Senate had earlier on Tuesday approved the payment of N68.9bn as subsidy claims to 20 petroleum marketers.

Marafa’s report read in part, “That due to the scarcity of forex within the period, oil marketing companies were allowed to source forex outside the CBN rate to enable them to meet the Country’s petroleum products demand.

“That NNPC Retail get their petroleum product allocation directly from PPMC at an already subsidised rate and so does not require forex to transact its business”.

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Some of the oil marketers and the amount approved for them include Total Nigeria Plc, N13.7bn; Northwest Petroleum, N11.4bn;  Masters Energy, N10bn;  MRS Oil Plc, N8.8bn;  and Sahara Energy, N8.4 billion.

Others are MRS Oil & Gas Limited, N6.3bn, Nipco Plc, N4.2bn; Forte Oil, N3.9bn; DEEJONES Petroleum & Gas, N4.1billion;  and Emadeb, N4bn, among others.

The senators, before approving the payment, berated the Federal Government for paying subsidy to oil marketers over the years without the Senate’s approval.

Senator Barnabas Gemade wondered why the Federal Government and the anti-graft agencies had failed to convict any of the oil marketers who were indicted in the illegal subsidy claims.

He noted with regret that the government had not done enough in bringing the owners of the affected 50 oil firms to justice many years after their prosecution.

He said, “What has happened to those who defrauded the nation? I believe that the 9th Senate will do justice to know what has happened to this money”.

Gemade also reminded the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government of its pledge to stop subsidy payment when it came into power in 2015.

He said, “The government should stand by its words. If the government fails to end the subsidy regime, it will kill the Nigerian economy”.

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Others who contributed and condemned the subsidy payment were Senators Bassey Akpan, Victor Umeh and Mathew Uroghide.

Umeh said, “If we continue to hope that one day this subsidy will end, we are deceiving ourselves. What would Nigerians face after this payment of arrears?”

“People in government have refused to face the problem. Everyone is depending on oil revenue and yet no functional refineries have been set in place.

“The government should be able to plan to build five refineries; why can’t we use the money we get from the sale of our crude to build refineries?

“The government should give us a programme to enable us to have four functional refineries in five years.

“Exchange rates are not the problem, but our inability to do what others are doing is the main issue”.

In his contribution, Urhoghide, said, “Government should be serious in their policies and not be directionless in executing these policies.”

Also speaking, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, said, “I hope that the next Assembly will be able to sit with the Executive to address this issue and resolve it without creating unnecessary tension.

According to him, “The NNPC needs to also caution itself so that it does not encroach on the appropriation responsibility of the National Assembly.

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“We need to do something about the provisions of refineries in our country – it is not rocket science. Even if it does not resolve the issue of subsidy, we would have gone a long way in addressing it.”

Highlights of the breakdown showed that N10.8bn was approved as subsidy claim to Tanzila Petroleum Company, while N58.1 billion was okayed for 19 oil marketing companies.

The ruling All Progressives Congress, had accused the former administration of Goodluck Johnathan of fraud over its claims of trillions of tax payers money for subsidizing petrol when the pump price was N87 per litre for Nigerians.

Nigeria currently pay N145 per litre if petrol under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

NEWSPAD reports that the valedictory session of the Senate has been slated for June 6, 2019.

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