It was gathered that the Federal Government on Wednesday expressed concern about the scarcity of petrol being witnessed in most parts of the country, stating that oil marketers would today (Thursday) receive the sum of N156bn as arrears of their subsidy claims.
The Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, stated this in Abuja in an interview with journalists shortly after declaring open the 20th conference of Directors General of Customs of the World Customs Organisation.
The minister, while expressing sympathy with Nigerians, whose lives were being disrupted by long queues at filling stations, gave an assurance that the government was working to end the scarcity within the shortest time possible.
She said despite the revenue challenges facing the government, the issue of fuel subsidy payment to marketers had always been prioritised by the Federal Government.
For instance, she said the government had in December 2014 paid the sum of N350bn to the marketers, noting that additional N31bn in foreign exchange differentials had already been released.
Okonjo-Iweala said, “On the issue of oil marketers, we have really been working with them and we have been dialoguing with them all along. We paid N350bn in December and we paid them N31bn in foreign exchange differentials; and by tomorrow (Thursday), we will be paying them N100bn for which we had earlier given them IOUs as well as their interest rate differentials of N56bn.
“So, I am about to go and sign to get that paid and I think that Nigerians can see that the government is making maximum efforts to accommodate the oil marketers. They are also Nigerians and they need to also cooperate with us.
“As I leave here, I am going to sign for them to get another N156bn; N100bn in the IOUs, which is due tomorrow, and N56bn in interest rate differentials.”
The Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria and the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association and MOMAN had put the aggregate subsidy arrears owed the marketers by the Federal Government at N356.2bn.
Of this amount, the government had made provision for Sovereign Debt Notes of N100bn, which are expected to mature at the end of this month.
The balance of N256.2bn comprises actual subsidy arrears for part of 2014 and so far this year, and the foreign exchange differentials and bank interests.
The Executive Secretary, MOMAN, Mr. Thomas Olawore, had said that members were increasingly finding it difficult to continue importation of petrol and that the market situation was getting toughe