Fuel scarcity may linger till next month
NIGERIANS may need to brace up for more hard times, as indications emerged yesterday that fuel scarcity may persist till June, after the incoming administration may have been sworn in on May 29,2015.
The Guardian’s investigation revealed that the scarcity of the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise known as petrol may continue till after the official take-over by the Buhari led administration, as marketers are wary of further importation for the fear of the unknown.
Although, the Federal Government recently paid the marketers about N154 billion as part of the subsidy claims, reliable industry sources told The Guardian yesterday that the marketers are now shying away from importing products due to uncertainties surrounding the payment of their outstanding N200 billion.
Meanwhile,the Federal Government yesterday disclosed its plans to conduct the first comprehensive survey to determine actual volume of crude oil, gas, among other petroleum products produced, consumed or exported out of the country.
Statistician-General of the Federation, Dr. Yemi Kale stated this in Abuja yesterday during a one-day stakeholders meeting of survey on gas and petroleum product demand, supply and utilization.
Kale noted that the study scheduled to involve administering of questionnaires is to be supervised by enumerators from the National Bureau of Statistics(NBS).The scope of the study will cover 2012-2014.
The source confirmed that most marketers were only selling products that they could easily manage and not allow a situation where they will go into liquidation in case the unexpected happens.
“We have been paid partially, but everybody is suspicious of what will happen to the outstanding balance owed marketers and what happens after May 29. Nobody is importing now against June, because no one is sure of what is going to happen next,” he stated.
He added that traders are making offers offshore Lagos, but the marketers are resisting the offer and those traders are going back with their vessels.
“There are so many vessels laden with fuel at Nigeria’s border line, but the marketers are not buying, there is nothing the traders can do than to go back with their products,” the source said.
However, The Guardian learnt that the Federal Government may have technically transferred the burden of fuel subsidy to the incoming administration. The payments are post-dated till after May 29 handing over, while the balance is expected to be managed by the new regime.
The Executive Secretary, Major Oil Marketers of Nigeria (MOMAN), Obafemi Olawore, had earlier confirmed that the incoming government due to the post-dated Sovereign Debt Note (SDN) would effect part of the payment.
According to him the Federal Government has paid about N98.2 billion post-dated for main subsidy and another N54 billion for interest, leaving the outstanding claims at N200 billion. Although the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala kicked against the figure and held a reconciliation meeting to resolve the differences.
Olawore said the marketers did not entertain any fear because the SDN always come with guarantee of payment, once issued.
The President, National Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Tokunboh Korodo, however urged the parties to resolve their differences in the interest of the Nigerians, attributing the long queues to shortage of products at the depots.
Korodo, in a chat with The Guardian said: “We did not embark on strike. It is the major and independent marketers that shut their depots from tanker drivers due to their subsidy outstanding. But the queue you are seeing now is because it is not all of them that have fuel, while the only few that have need to cater for the entire nation and that is why you see tankers coming from different parts of the country to Lagos to lift fuel.
Kale said the idea of the planned survey was muted by the Consultative Committee on Petroleum Statistics (CCPS) shortly after it was inaugurated in 2008.
While saying that the survey was the first of its kind nationwide, Kale explained that the composition of CCPS is broad and comprised parastatals of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR),the Petroleum Equalization Fund (PEF).
Others, he said, are the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF),the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI),the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA), and the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).
Also include the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN), and the Weight and Measures Department of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.
According to the NBS boss, the survey was necessitated by the need for proper record keeping, which he said was crucial for strategic planning and policy formulation. Kale who was represented at the workshop by the NBS’s Director of Corporate Planning, Mr. H.S. Harry noted also that the survey became even more necessary now, especially in the face of perennial fuel shortage.
He further stressed that it would help explain the consumption and supply pattern of fuel, gas among other petroleum products at both domestic and export levels.
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