Government, marketers dialogue to avert disruption in fuel supply

Minister says the meeting was to enable stakeholders resolve issues on subsidy payments and supply of petroleum products

With an assurance by the Federal Government to pay outstanding subsidy claims, Oil marketers promise Nigerians that there will be no fuel scarcity in the country.

The Federal government and some major petroleum marketers met in Abuja on to discuss modalities for guaranteeing uninterrupted supply of fuel in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja and environs.

During the meeting which was presided over by the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, issues relating to the ongoing reconciliation and payment of subsidy claims to marketers as well as ways to forestall further disruptions in the supply of petroleum products throughout the country were discussed.

The Chairman of the Presidential Committee on the Verification of Fuel Subsidy Payment, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, and top executives of some major and independent oil marketing companies attended the meeting.

The marketers present include- the Managing Director, NIPCO PLC, Venkataraman Venkatapathy; Chief Executive Officer, Oando Marketing Plc, Yomi Awobokun; Managing Director, Total Nigeria Plc, Francois Boussagol and General Manager, Folawiyo Oil Ltd, Dipo Makanjuola.

Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said the meeting became imperative to allow for frank discussion of identified grey areas regarding the fuel subsidy payments with a view to arriving at an agreement on how to effectively resolve the issue.

The minister described the discussions during the meeting as “constructive”, adding that if resolutions are properly implemented, the long queues that have resurfaced in some parts of the country, including Abuja would soon be brought to an end.

“We met with some of the major oil marketers in the country and we just had what I will call very good and constructive discussions on all sides on how to move forward in terms of the issues of importation of fuel and payment of the 2012 year,” the minister said.

“I think that with this kind of discussions we have today, we thought it would be good to hear from some of the marketers concerning how this process has gone with the Federal Government.

“We have been seeing headlines back and forth on what marketers have been saying concerning what the Federal Government is paying, what is happening with regards to the issue of fuel availability in the country and the way forward.”

Mr. Makanjuola, who spoke on behalf of the marketers, said the meeting provided an opportunity to resolve most of the outstanding issues affecting effective supply of petroleum products in the country.

“We had very constructive discussions and we have laid bare what our challenges are, and on the part of government, the minister also explained to us what their commitments would be.

“At the moment, there is a verification exercise going on being conducted by a firm of auditors. This would be completed by next week, and subsequently payments would be made.

“We have agreed to the exercise, and basically, the amount that we have that are all outstanding, we agreed that all will be paid. We are all on the same page, and we hope that subsequently we can move from there. We also resolved that we will continue to support government in its effort to resolve this challenge.

“We will like to assure Nigerians that there is no need for panic buying, because there are adequate products in the country.”

The FCT has suffered spasms of petroleum products supply disruptions in the past three weeks following reports that marketers resolved to pull out of the Federal Government fuel importation programme to protest the non-payment of subsidy expenses they allegedly incurred during importation of fuel under the Petroleum Support Fund (PSF) scheme.

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