Despite the accelerated payment of outstanding subsidy claims to oil marketing and trading (OM &T) companies to enable them offset their indebtedness to the banks and access fresh credit facilities to fund fuel importation, the banks are yet to resume lending to many of the importers, THISDAY has learnt.
After the protracted delay in the payment of the 2012 subsidy claims due to the various probes by the House of Representatives and the Aig-Imoukhuede Committees, the Federal Ministry of Finance has since resumed full payment to the marketers.
Director -General of the Budget Office, Dr. Bright Okogwu, told THISDAY during the weekend that over N880billion was disbursed to the marketers before the National Assembly approved a supplementary budget of N161.6billion to clear the outstanding claims.
He also debunked reports that there was no money in the subsidy account, adding that the approval of the supplementary budget was an indication that fund was available.
“There is no truth whatsoever in the report. The National Assembly has approved money. If it is approved, it means the money is available. If there is no money to pay the claims, nobody would have sought for the approval,” he said.
THISDAY however gathered that despite the efforts to ensure that the marketers repay the money borrowed from the banks, many of the marketers had not been able to access fresh credits from the banks.
It was learnt that only few marketers have access to credit financing from the banks.
One of the marketers told THISDAY that most of his subsidy claims had been paid but the banks had refused to lend many of them money for fresh importation.
“Before the subsidy crisis, it was the banks that used to chase us to come and collect loan but it is now the other way round,” said one of the marketers.
“We have been paid most of our claims and I am also aware that majority of other companies involved in importation have been paid. But the banks are yet to resume lending for fresh imports. The banks are very selective in giving out loans because marketers are no longer being paid within 45 days of importation products as stipulated in the Petroleum Support Fund (PSF) guidelines,” he added.
He said the banks were concerned on interests that accumulate after 45 days, adding that the government should have been responsible for the interests, having defaulted in the payment.
Also giving an update on the subsidy payments, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said the finance ministry had as at December 31, 2012 released the N161.6 billion approved by the National Assembly as supplementary budget for subsidy payments.
According to her, the finance ministry made the N161.6 billion supplementary budget for subsidy payments, which had been approved by the National Assembly, available to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) since December 31, 2012.