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Fuel scarcity looms as marketers give federal government seven-day ultimatum

Oil marketers under the aegis of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA), and the Independent Petroleum Products Importers (IPPIs) on Sunday gave the Federal Government seven days to settle the N800 billion subsidy debt owed them under the Petroleum Support Fund.

But stakeholders in the nation’s oil and gas sector who spoke with newsmen urged the Federal Government to quicken the payment of the outstanding subsidy to the marketers.
They said the planned strike would expose the nation’s economy to more dangers.
They also advocated the need for the government to consider full deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry as well as create an enabling environment for indigenous refineries to thrive with a view to checking the deluge of fuel importation.
The embattled marketers, who conveyed the action through Patrick Etim, the Legal Adviser to the Independent Petroleum Products Importers (IPPIs) on Sunday, said failure to meet the deadline would force its members to disengage their workers, an action which, they said, would obstruct loading of petrol at depots in the country.
He explained that the planned action became necessary as all investments and assets of oil marketers were being taken over by banks while payment of workers’ salaries remained uncertain.
Marketers have asked their workers to stay at home from December 1 as their salaries could not be paid due to huge subsidy debts owed by the government.
“The only way to salvage the situation is when government pays the outstanding debts through cash option for marketers to pay workers than other forms of payment instrument (like promissory note).
“As at the tail end of 2018, several months after the assurances received that government would pay off the outstanding debt, but as I speak, nothing has been done.
“The oil marketers have requested that forex differential and interest component of government’s indebtedness to marketers be calculated up to December 2018, to be paid within the next seven days from the date of the letter sent to them,” Etim said.
Etim said several thousands of jobs were on the line in the oil and gas industry as oil marketers had begun to cut down their workforce due to inability to pay salaries.
He said at the inception of the current administration, marketers engaged the government with a view to securing approval for all outstanding subsidy induced debts handed over to the current administration.
According to him, the current administration paid part of the debts with a substantial portion of the subsidy interest and foreign exchange differential still pending.
He said the then Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, had made an urgent intervention and given a directive to the former Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, on the matter.
The Executive Secretary, Deport and Petroleum Products Marketers of Nigeria (DAPPMA), Olufemi Adewole, confirmed that oil marketers had given government a seven-day ultimatum notice to the government to pay all outstanding debt owed marketers, including forex differentials and interest component.
He added that the ultimatum letter was served on November 28 to the Debt Management Office; Minister of Finance; Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream); Department of State Services (DSS), and the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, for urgent payment of marketers’ outstanding debts.
He said this became necessary to keep the industry from imminent collapse and also help to stave off sack of workers as marketers could no longer afford to pay beyond November 30 with such financial constraint.
He said DMO’s prompt response would stop the wastage of government resources which continued to increase in the form of interest on unpaid amounts which currently was in excess of N118 billion.
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