By Chineme Okafor in Abuja
Oil marketers under the aegis of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) and the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA), who have been owed about N348 billion by the federal government as outstanding payment on petrol subsidy claims would be paid N236 billion on Friday, the Chief Operating Officer (COO), Downstream of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Henry Ikem-Obih, disclosed on Saturday.
Ikem-Obih, said that while this first tranche will be paid, the balance of the subsidy debt will be cleared by the government in 2019 and 2020, after meeting with the marketers again.
Speaking after a meeting with officials of petroleum product marketers in Abuja, Ikem-Obih, said: “We agreed that after the first tranche is paid, the marketers would form a committee to work on details of how the next tranche will be paid in 2019 and the last tranche in 2020.
“Government is fully committed to paying the first tranche as promised and will be paid through promissory note that would be issued by the Debt Management Office (DMO).”
He explained that government had insisted on making the payments through promissory notes, which was equivalent to cash and can be liquidated almost immediately.
According to him, the decision to pay through promissory notes was based on the need to manage cash injection into the economy. He thus noted that injecting cash of that magnitude into the economy might affect the country negatively.
Further, Ikem-Obih, said this mode of settlement had been agreed between the government and the oil marketers since 2017, and it was not a new development.
He noted that government decided to pay the money to the oil marketers in full and had directed that there would be no deductions from the marketers’ account to settle debts owed government.
“Some oil marketing companies, DAPPMA and MOMAN members are indebted to federal government agencies, like the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), but the government had directed that the debts should not be deducted from the payments. This is because if we do, most of the marketers would be left without a dime,” Ikem-Obih, added.
While explaining the disparity between the N800 billion claimed by the oil marketers and the N348 billion approved by the National Assembly, he said the debt position of all the marketers to the government were considered and agreed upon as at June 30, 2018 and presented to the National Assembly for approval, which after consideration of the debts, approved the sum of N348 billion.