Fewer oil companies will participate in importation of fuel for the third quarter as the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) has reduced the number of importers from 42 to 39.
The reduction in the number of companies that participated in fuel importation in the first and second quarters, it was learnt, is to check shady deals in the nation's fuel import scheme.
Besides, the PPPRA has also slashed the third quarter fuel imports volume by 450,000 metric tonnes, an equivalent of 603.45 billion litres.
By this development, the 39 oil marketers would be issued with permit to import 3.125 million metric tonnes of fuel, an equivalent of 4.20 billion litres, which is a drop from the 4.794 billion litres imported in the second quarter.
The agency in the first quarters of the year had issued permits to 42 oil depot and facility owners to import a total of 3.755million metric tonnes of petrol, which is equivalent to 5.036 billion litres.
It, however, reduced the volume in the second quarter to 3.575 million metric tonnes or equivalent of 4.794 wbillion litres, reflecting a drop of 180,000 metric tonnes or 241.38 million litres. Following the corruption and sharp practices that characterised the fuel import scheme, which made the funds appropriated for fuel subsidy to drastically overshoot the N240 billion budget mark and the attendant crisis over fuel subsidy removal that ignited a nationwide protests and legislative probe, the PPPRA under the leadership of Mr. Reginald Stanley has tried to ensure transparency in the fuel import scheme.
It first reduced the number of fuel importing firms from about 125 to 42 in the first quarter before slashing the volume of fuel import. A sources told THISDAY yesterday that the decision to further trim the volume of fuel import and importers of the product was aimed at ensuring efficient management of the petrol subsidy fund.
According to the source, the third quarter allocation of some marketers in the previous quarter was abysmal, adding that the agency had to manage the volume to avoid fuel scarcity. The source said the 39 marketers that were chosen made it because they performed well in the previous quarter, adding that the figure would be further reduced in the fourth quarter as the Federal Government has no money to pay for fuel subsidy.
But reacting to the marketers' position, a source said those complaining were marketers who did not perform well.
Some of the marketers who spoke on condition of anonymity complained that what was allocated to them would not be enough to service their loans from the banks.
He said: "The allocation was approved to match the budget. We are cutting down the volume because government has no money to pay subsidy. We have a target volume, which we have allocated in line with the budget. The truth is that there is no money, the money is not there."