Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Finance Minister
The Federal Government will Wednesday pay the outstanding subsidy claims to marketers whose infractions in the subsidy probe report were not sufficient to warrant further criminal investigations or prosecution, THISDAY has learnt.
Investigation revealed that the federal government’s strong commitment to the marketers might have put to rest their threat to suspend operations and plunge the country into fuel crisis in protest against non-payment of their outstanding claims.
The decision to pay the marketers, it was learnt, was reached at a meeting on Thursday in Abuja by the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and a group of marketers.
One of the marketers that attended the meeting told THISDAY that though the infractions committed by the marketers were not sufficient to warrant refund of money to the government, they will however still make further clarifications with respect to the documents they submitted to the Aig-Imoukhuede Committee.
“We do not belong to the group of the indicted marketers and we are not required to refund money to the government. In fact, the indicted marketers were not represented at the meeting. But there are still grey areas in our documents, which government requires further clarifications. So, it was agreed in camera that we should be paid on Wednesday,” he said.
THISDAY gathered that the payment would have commenced on Monday but for the two-day public holiday declared by the federal government with respect to the Sallah celebrations by the Moslems.
A source privy to the meeting told THISDAY over the weekend that there was a strong commitment by the minister of finance to ensure that the payment process would be as scheduled.
“The payment would have commenced on Monday but for the public holidays. Some of the marketers have sent their account numbers to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the money to be remitted,” he said.
THISDAY also gathered that the minister had emphasised that the ministry would work during the weekend and public holiday to ensure that every claim was verified before payment.
The Federal Ministry of Finance had listed 21 marketers, which the Aig-Imoukhuede Committee had recommended that they should refund various amounts of money to the federal government.
The ministry had also stated that between April and May 2012, the 14 marketers under Batches D/12 and E/12 were paid N17billion claims.
It also paid additional N25.6billion worth of claims to the marketers, since the beginning of July 2012, bringing the total claims paid to 31 oil marketers between April and August 2012 to N42.666billion.
The government said the claims of marketers that will refund money to the government will be netted out against their entitlements, while marketers with negative balance will refund money to the government.