Fuel scarcity looms as oil marketers’ ultimatum expires Monday

…marketers to get subsidy claims Dec.14, says FG

Prospects of another round of fuel scarcity in the country emerged Saturday as oil marketers said they were yet to reach an agreement with the Federal Government on the N800 billion subsidy arrears.

The marketer ultimatum to government to pay them or risk the shutdown of depots expires on Monday. And Mr Olufemi Adewole, Executive Secretary, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN), said their threat to cease depot operations is still on the table.

Adewole in a statement in Lagos said the offer by the Federal Government has failed to meet the legitimate demands of the association.

”We did not sign the purported document with government as claimed. We still stand by our ultimatum which will expire on Monday”, Adewole stated.

The Federal Ministry of Finance on Dec. 6 said that the Federal Government and petroleum marketers had agreed on the settlement of outstanding claims.

The ministry, in a statement issued by Mr Paul Abechi, Spokesman for the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, in Abuja, assured that operations at all depots and sales would continue until further notice
.

The oil marketers had on Dec. 2 given the federal government seven-day ultimatum to settle outstanding N800 billion subsidy payment debts, failing which they would cease depots operations.

However, the oil marketers said: “We refer to the press release from the Federal Ministry of Finance following the meeting with marketers under the aegis of DAPPMAN, MOMAN and IPMAN and most respectfully refute its contents with the following clarifications.

“DAPPMAN reiterates that there was no agreement reached because offers by government failed to meet the legitimate demands of the association and we did not sign the purported document.

“Hence, our ultimatum stands as we cannot continue to borrow from banks to pay staff salaries.

“DAPPMAN’s demands made to the Federal Government through the Honourable Minister of Finance and Debt Management Office was to pay cash and the total sum of indebtedness to marketers within the time frame.

“This was expressed in communications with the government, Ministry and other relevant office.”
According to the marketers, this is to enable them continue in business, pay staff and not rely on facilities from banks which are no longer forthcoming.

“We affirm that of all stakeholders, MOMAN, IPMAN and DAPPMAN that participated in the PSF scheme, DAPPMAN has the largest debt exposure in the downstream sector.

“DAPPMAN has alerted the FG to this dire situation and specifically to the challenge our member companies face, leading to our inability to pay December 2018 salaries to our teeming work force without the immediate settlement of the debts owed by the FG.

“Most unfortunately, this has not been heeded.

“Since government globally is recognised as a continuum, FG is obliged to settle all legitimately incurred and verified Sovereign debts due to marketers promptly,” the oil marketers said.

The marketers stressed that those debts owed to them actually belonged to banks, their shareholders, depositors and other Federal Government Agencies such as PPPRA, PEF-M-B, AMCON.

The marketers said banks, in compliance with extant banking regulations of the CBN, recently swooped on marketers with non-performing loans, taking over their depots and also cutting off any form of trading loans to them.

“As a result, thousands of families have lost their means of livelihood.

“Many more marketers will follow suit in the event that FG does not settle these debts to marketers.

“Unfortunately based on the FG failed promises to address the sovereign debt which was then less than N350 billion, it has grown to over N800 billion and still Federal Government has yet to pay.

“December 2018 makes it 18 months after FEC approval for this payment and three months after the National Assembly (NASS) approval, yet marketers have not been paid.

“We emphasise that FG’s proposed payment of promissory notes is not acceptable to DAPPMAN. Will want our money paid in cash.

“This will adversely affect the financial system taking due cognisance of the futuristic nature of this proposed mode of financial.

”Therefore, as from today, our work force, save for security operatives, will effective, 7th December 2018 cease to be on our payroll pending payment of the debt owed by the Federal Government,” they said.

Meanwhile, the Federal government said on Saturday that oil marketers would be paid N236 billion out of N348 billion approved by the National Assembly as outstanding subsidy claims on Friday December 14th.

The Chief Operating officer, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Downstream Mr Henry Ikem-Obih disclosed this to newsmen, in Abuja.

“The Debt Management Office (DMO) will by next week precisely on Dec. 14th pay oil marketers first part of the subsidy arrears of N236 billion as agreed by both parties.

“We agreed that after the first tranche is paid, the marketers will form committee to work on details of how the next tranche will be paid in 2019 and the last paid in 2020.

“Government is fully committed to pay the first tranche as promised and will be paid through promissory note that will issued by the DMO,’’ he said.

Ikem-Obih said that oil marketers equally owed government some debt which would not be deducted from the first tranche of payment.

He said that it was unfortunate that Depot and Petroleum Product Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN) had issues a counter statement from what was agreed at the meeting held with all stakeholders on Thursday.

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