Statistics from the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) have shown that the federal government spent N679billion on fuel subsidy between January and October. The figure is N671billion or 49.7 per cent below the N1.3trillion payment the government made within the same period in 2011.
The agency's Executive Secretary, Mr. Reginald Stanley, said the government saved N671billion for Nigerians during the period, adding that it was made possible by stringent reform introduced in the management of fuel subsidy regime.
Giving a breakdown of the payment, Stanley said that of the N679 billion subsidy payment made between January and October, the NNPC got N337.7billion while other marketers received a combined figure of N342billion.
"This is as against N1.351trillion paid within the same period of January to October, last year," he said, and stressed that the achievement was made possible by reforms put in place by the agency to check leakages.
To begin with, he said, the agency reduced "the size of briefcase marketers from 128 to only 38. In other words, we successfully cleaned out 90 companies, while setting stringent regulatory conditions which would make it difficult for marketers to short-change the system.
"Our efforts have not stopped here, as we are more than determined to refer any matter to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), should we notice any infraction," Stanley added.
He identified other measures adopted by the agency as restriction of participation in fuel imports to only owners of coastal discharge/depot facilities, a move he said further motivated more investments in the development of petroleum handling facilities, while ensuring better management of participants in the subsidy scheme and promoting local content development.
The PPPRA boss also added that the agency now conducts regular monthly import performance review meetings, and resolving marketers' complaints through effective mediation to ensure that marketers' confidence on imports was restored in the light of subsidy removal debate and budget approval uncertainties.
He also informed that PPPRA engaged the services of Certified Cargo Inspectors (CCIs) to enhance operational efficiency and accountability in the areas of products receipts, in line with international best practices and ensuring that the agency's members of staff were available to take physical discharge valves at depots, with a view to eliminating risks of back-loading malpractices.
He however, added that "in as much as we all agree that there were issues in the industry, the agency has since risen to the challenges to breathe fresh air into an industry that has suffered from enormous abuses... Our doors are always opened to public scrutiny."