N500 billion SURE-P funds “missing”-Senate Committee

The committee said the federal government must explain the whereabouts of the money.

The Senate said on Tuesday that more than half of the fuel subsidy savings raised by the federal government since 2012 may be missing. The amount would be at least N500 billion, the Senate Committee on Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme, SURE-P, said.

The sum is derived from calculable amount that should have accrued to the government, as removed fuel subsidy funds since January 2012 till September 2013.

The government scrapped the subsidy it paid on each litre of petrol consumed in the country, claiming it was costing too much to sustain the programme and would prefer to redirect the savings to development.

After grounding public demonstrations greeted the decision, the government later retained a part of the subsidy while it removed about N32 per litre, raising petrol pump price by the same amount (from N65 to N97 per litre)

But speaking to journalists at the Senate meeting Tuesday, a member of the committee, Kabiru Marafa (APC, Zamfara) said N800 billion had been generated so far from subsidy, while the government has released only N300 billion for the SURE-P, and has provided no reason for the difference.

The senator said the committee had written to the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to state the quantity of fuel imported since January 2012 to September 2013, and the NNPC replied within the 21 months about 25 billion litres per had been imported.

“Now, if you multiply 25 billion by 32, you get about N800 billion, and what SURE-P told us when they came here when we invited them, they told us that they collected about N300 billion at 15 billion flat rate per month,” Mr. Marafa said.

“So if you multiply 21 by 15 billion, you will get about 315 billion. So what we are talking about is the amount involved which is 500 billion, where is it? That is what we wanted NNPC to tell us,” he said.

The committee expressed anger that none of the responsible government officials, including the finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, CBN governor, Sanusi Lamido, attended its meeting to clarify the huge differential.

“They are the ones importing the fuel, they are the custodian. I was surprised that CBN was not here because they are the custodian but if anything, if their top management was here, the question of how they came about the N15 billion they are remitting to SURE-P would have been asked,” Mr. Marafa said.

“Since CBN are the custodians of the money, so how did CBN come about remitting to SURE-P, then, we will be told. Maybe, CBN will tell us this is what NNPC is remitting to them; maybe NNPC will say no, we have been remitting this amount of money but CBN is remitting on N15 billion. So, they are remitting only N15 billion, then we will ask CBN how did you come about the N15 billion flat rate, because this thing can’t be a flat rate.”

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