PENGASSAN tasks government on payment of N720 billion debt to oil marketers
The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has appealed to the Federal Government to settle all outstanding debts to oil marketers.
The union argued that such payment would engender growth of not only the downstream sector, but all sectors of the oil and gas industry and develop the nation’s economy.
It made the call following threats by the marketers to embark on massive retrenchment of their employees if the government failed to settle the over N720 billion subsidy arrears.
The debt, according to the marketers, was the outstanding subsidy owed on the importation of petroleum products, accrued interest on loans from banks and exchange rate differentials, which made them to stop the importation of refined petroleum products leaving only the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to do so.
PENGASSAN said if the government was genuinely interested in the growth of the downstream sector and desires to attract more investments in the sector, which has become almost moribund, then it should pay the debts owed the marketers.
A statement by its National Public Relations Officer, Fortune Obi, said the government should try to verify the authenticity of the oil marketers’ claims and ensure quick settlement of the genuine debts.
“The government should try to separate the genuine claims from spurious ones and pay them because we will not like to be engulfed in the mistakes of the past where briefcase marketers milked the nation through dubious subsidy claims.
“A situation where the workers in the industry suffer from government’s failure to honour its obligations as part of the importation deal, will be unfair and unacceptable to our association. This is against President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration’s job creation policy.
“As a responsible trade union, as much as we will support any government’s move to end the subsidy regime and spurious claims by the marketers, we are also canvassing for the payment of debts that can hinder the growth of the downstream sector and attract investments into the sector.”
He noted that in the last five years, workforce in the downstream sector, especially the markers have depleted by more than 70 per cent, adding, “most of them were made to join the already over-bloated labour market.”