Senate condemns FG for non-payment of fuel subsidy claims

The Senate has condemned the Federal Government for not paying the subsidy claims by petroleum product marketers despite approval by the National Assembly since July.

At a meeting of stakeholders called by the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) and held in Abuja on Wednesday, senators took turns to criticise government agencies for allegedly slowing down the process of paying petroleum product marketers what was owed as and when due.

The committee resolved that the Ministry of Finance should within one week call a meeting of other government agencies and the marketers to reconcile subsidy claim figures and discuss ways of fast-tracking the payment of arrears.

The stakeholders are to report back to the committee next week.

The Senate had in July 2018 approved the payment of subsidy claims totalling N348bn to oil marketing companies based on a request by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The approval followed the adoption of an interim report by the committee on the promissory note programme and bond issuance to settle inherited local debts and contractual obligations to petroleum marketers.

While approving that 55 oil marketers be paid verified figures totalling N275,750,415,108, the upper chamber of the National Assembly had asked that 19 marketers “with contentious claims and verified figures” be paid 65 per cent of their claims, amounting to N73,452,639,866, pending further investigation and verification by the committee.

The Chairman of the committee, Senator Kabiru Marafa, in his opening remarks, explained that the meeting was called to know how much the Federal Government had implemented the Senate’s resolution, the situation with the 19 marketers with contentious claims, and the solution to the continued conflict of subsidy figures between the government and oil marketers.

The Director-General, Debt Management Office, Mrs Patience Oniha, however, said that 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.

Oniha also stated that 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 her, the processes, which must be followed, are still ongoing and the DMO will engage the marketers by the middle of November.


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