Senate to engage CBN on forex for fuel importers
IRKED by the lingering fuel scarcity across the country, the Senate has unveiled plans to engage the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the possibility of opening a special window for petroleum marketers to access foreign exchange which had remained a major challenge to marketers in their quest to import petroleum products.
Chairman Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) Uche Ekwunife, who disclosed this after an assessment tour of Nipco Plc terminal in Apapa, Lagos, said the committee is worried that marketers were not importing owing to the hiccups in the procurement of foreign exchange.
“As soon as we get back to Abuja, we shall engage the top hierarchy of CBN to get a first hand report from them on how to address the paucity of forex to marketers as well as their plans on how to facilitate forex to them “ she said.
Ekwunife said Nigerians are expecting respite after the passage of the supplementary appropriation bill of over N10.6 billion fuel subsidy claims for marketers, but were amazed that the product is still not available in the right quantity to guarantee continuous availability at fuel stations.
According to her, investigations by the committee showed that payment of the subsidy claims is no assurance of petrol availability as marketers are facing a herculean task getting forex to import even as most of them had opened several letters of credit awaiting warranty by the CBN.
She asserted that the Senate would meet CBN governor to explain how forex will be made available as a matter of priority to marketers in view of the primacy role of petrol to motorists and other industrial users.
The senator commended Nipco for exemplary efforts by bringing in cargoes of petrol even with all the challenges of subsidy and other ancillary issues facing the sector.
She urged other marketers to emulate the company.
The senate committee members who were taken round the MT CHAMPION vessel which brought the second imported cargo expressed delight in Nipco’s efforts and assured that all the issues affecting the sector would be placed on the front burner to ensure that Nigerians did not suffer to buy fuel.
Managing Director of Nipco, Venkataraman Venkatapathy said the visit by senators is historic for the company as the second import vessel of the company –MT CHAMPION which berthed with about 37 million litres of petrol started discharging on the day of the inspection.
He said the second import even in the face of the challenges facing marketers is in pursuance of the pledge of the company to support government in improving supplies of the product to filling stations.
According to him, the depot had not only insisted on selling at the government official rate of N77.66K depot price but had also warded- off middlemen in and around the depot to avoid any racketeering by those who may want to cash in on the low price to rip off motorists.
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