Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Tuesday, said the fuel crisis in the country has nothing to do with payment of outstanding subsidy claims to marketers.
The minister said this following speculations that marketers had held back supplies of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) due to outstanding payment issues.
Speaking with journalists in her office, Okonjo-Iweala noted that contrary to some unfounded speculations, the queues are not related to payment issues.
“As Nigerians can attest, the Petroleum Ministry and NNPC (Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation) have worked very hard to reduce them (queues) to the barest minimum. We sympathise with Nigerians whose lives are being disrupted by the queues and assure them that we are working hard to end them as quickly as possible.
“The situation is due to a mix of factors, including disruption of pipelines and logistical issues and they are being attended to urgently,” he minister said.
Stressing that the government was taking payment of subsidy claims seriously, the minister recalled that the marketers were paid a total of N320.8 billion from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) in two installments last December. She added that she held a meeting with the marketers last week where assurances and commitments were made on payment of the outstanding N185 billion balance owed to them.
To facilitate the payments, Okonjo-Iweala noted that the Debt Management Office (DMO) has issued Sovereign Debt Notes (SDNs) to cover N100 billion out of the N185 billion agreed upon as balance for the next payments. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has also given approvals for the banks to issue letters of credit (LCs).
“It is clear that while the union and most members have been cooperative, some of their members are not. Some of these people have even refused to open LCs to facilitate their payments. We salute the union and the members who are working hard to end this unfortunate situation. As for those who are working in the other direction, Nigerians should ask them what their motives are,” the minister said.