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N800b subsidy arrears:  Fuel scarcity looms as oil marketers deny agreement with FG

N800b subsidy arrears:  Fuel scarcity looms as oil marketers deny agreement with FG

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Adewale Sanyaolu

The Depots and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMA), on Saturday, denied having an agreement with the Federal Government over the settlement of N800 billion fuel subsidy arrears owed its members.

The Federal Government had in a statement signed last week by the Special Assistant on Media and Communications to the Minister of Finance, Mr. Paul Abechi, claimed that it has agreed on the settlement terms of the N800 billion subsidy claims owed marketers.

Abechi said the resolution came out of statement jointly signed by officials of the Federal Government and representatives of the petroleum marketers after their joint meeting in Abuja, last Thursday.

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But, in a swift reaction, Executive Secretary of DAPPMA, Mr. Olufemi Adewole, maintained that the meeting it had with the Federal Government ended in a deadlock as the offers made by the FG failed to meet the legitimate demands of the association.

Adewole further reiterated that there was no agreement between DAPPMA and the Federal Government as the purported statement being circulated was not signed by the oil marketers

In view of the latest development, DAPPMA said its earlier seven day ultimatum issued to the Federal Government still stands while its declaration to quit depots across the country would equally be effected

The marketers, comprising Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association and Independent Petroleum Products Importers (IPPI), said the debt was disrupting the smooth operations of its activities

The oil marketers lamented that banks have taken over investments and assets of oil marketers over unpaid debts.

“The only way to salvage the situation is for government to pay the oil marketers the outstanding debts through cash option instead of promissory note being proposed.

As I speak, nothing has been done several months after assurances received by government saying it would pay off the outstanding debts.

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

Adewole said that several thousand jobs were on the line in the industry, as oil marketers begin to cut-down their workforce due to inability to pay salaries.

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“We   affirm   that   of   all   stakeholders that participated in the Petroleum Subsidy Fund (PSF) scheme, DAPPMA has the  largest debt exposure in the downstream sector.  “DAPPMA has alerted the FG to this dire situation and specifically to the challenge our member companies face, which will lead to our inability to pay December 2018 salaries to our teeming work force.

We urge 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.”

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.

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