NNPC Moves To Avert Petrol Scarcity As Marketers Issues 7 Day Ultimatum Over N800bn Subsidy Debts …Marketers Divided Over Decision, IPMAN Backs Out

 

Yemisi Izuora 

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC has moved swiftly to avert scarcity of petrol in the Christmas and new year following a 7 Day Ultimatum issued by Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria following non payment of N800 billion subsidiary arrears by government.

 The oil marketers issued the 7-day ultimatum notice at the weekend urging government to settle all outstanding debts including  forex differentials and interest rate component owed marketers in cash.

The marketers, under the aegis of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA) and to Independent Petroleum Products Importers (IPPIs) said that failure to meet the deadline will force its members to disengage their workers which pay extension loading of petrol at depots would automatically seized.

In response to the threat, general manager group public affairs of the NNPC Ndu Ughammadu said the Corporation is engaging the marketers bodies. 

According to Ughammadu, “The federal ministry of finance and Debt Management Office are on the issue, going by positive outcomes so far. We are optimistic of a prompt resolution of the contending matter”.

Oriental News Nigeria reports that Mr Patrick Etim, the Legal Adviser to Independent Petroleum Products Importers (IPPIs), on Sunday said that the 7-day ultimatum became necessary as all investments and assets of oil marketers are been taken over by banks, while payment of workers’ salaries remains serious dilemma.

According to Etim, marketers have asked their workers to stay at home from December 1 as salaries of workers could not be paid due to huge debts owed by the government on subsidy.

“The only way to salvage the situation is when government pays the outstanding debts though cash option for marketers to pay workers than other form of payment instrument like (promissory note) would save the intended mass retrenchment.

“As at tail end of 2018, several months after the assurances received by government would pay off the outstanding debt, but as I speak, nothing has been done.

“The oil marketers have requested forex differential and interest component of government’s indebtedness to marketer be calculated up to December 2018 to be paid within next 7-days from the date of the letter sent to them,’’ he said.

 Etim said that several thousand jobs are on the line in the oil and gas industry, as oil marketers began cut-down of their workforce due to inability to pay salaries

“At the inception of the current administration, marketers engaged the government with the view to secure approval for all outstanding subsidy induced debts handed over to the current administration,’’ he said.

The counsel said that the current administration paid part of the debts with a substantial portion of the subsidy interest and foreign exchange differential still pending, in spites the then  acting President Professor Yemi Osinbajo for urgent intervention and directive to the former Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun,

Also,  Executive Secretary, Deport and Petroleum Products Marketers of Nigeria (DAPPMA), Olufemi Adewole, confirmed that oil marketers had given government 7-day ultimatum notice to pay all outstanding debt owed marketers including forex differentials and interest component.

Adewole also confirmed that the ultimatum letter had been served on November 28 to the Debt Management Office, Minister of Finance, Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum Downstream, Deportment of States Services and the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources  for urgent payment of marketers outstanding debts.

He said that this became necessary to avert the industry from imminent collapse and also help to stave off any sack workers as marketers can no longer afford to pay beyond November 30th with such financial constraint.

He advised that DMO prompt response would stop the wastage of government resources, which continuous to increase in the form of interest on unpaid amounts which as at today is in excess of N118billion.

“We urged the DMO to process and pay marketers in cash for their outstanding forex differentials and interest component claims, together with the amount already approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and the National Assembly.

“Marketers are not in a position to discount payment on the subsidy induced debt owed as proposed by DMO, the expected payment is made up of bank loans, outstanding admin charges due to Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), outstanding bridging  fund due Petroleum Equalisation Fund (Management) Board (PEF(M)B) and in a few cases AMCON judgment debts.

“We urged that the FEC approval payment instrument, the promissory note be substituted with cash and paid through our bankers to top the avoidable aste of public funds through these debts accruing interest,’’ he said.

According to him, The DMO brief to marketers renders the proposed financial instrument of inadequate value to the industry, nullifies the principle of full restitution to the subsidy scheme participants.

“And does not achieve the purpose of reliving the industry from the unsupportable financial burden arising from its participation in the importation of product under the subsidy scheme of the Federal Government.

He said that some of the prayed that government institutions involved in resolving the lingering problem to appreciate dire situation marketers faced and the urgent need pay off these debts in full without further delay.

But our Correspondent however learnt that the ultimatum was not a unanimous decision by the marketers as few of the are not in support of the decision.

A competent source within MOMAN said, ” Let me tel, you, this is an empty threat, we all depend on the NNPC for product supply and no one is ready to go out of business. The truth is that some of them are aware that the figure being thrown about is fictitious, it is falseified and government is aware of this and that is why it is bringing international audit firm to cross check the figures.

We are not being realistic but I can assure you that those of us that are in genuine business is not shutting down our facilities” he assured. 

Meanwhile the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN said it is not part of the threat.

President of the Association, Chinedu Okoronkwo responding to our enquiry declared the Associationis not part of the decision.

Okoronkwo said, We are not part of this decision though our money is part of the N800 billion which government is owing through IPMAN investment which I am the chairman so we support their agitation for payment. Our money is part of that arrears but nevertheless we are not shutting down our facilities”.

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