The executive secretary of the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPRA), Mr Ahmed Faruk, yesterday admitted that the non-payment to marketers is partly responsible for the fuel crisis being experienced in some parts of the country, just as he said over nine vessels are currently discharging about 200m litres of the product across the country.
Faruk made this disclosure when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) to defend his agency's budget
The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has said that the federal government still owes oil marketers the sum of N151 billion outstanding fuel subsidy claims.
The group said following the last fuel scarcity government made frantic efforts and released N41bn for part-payment of what it owed marketers to enable them continue product supply. IPMAN recently disclosed that government had not paid marketers since September 2013.
However, the PPRA boss revealed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the Federal Ministry of Finance had settled all the outstanding debts.
According to him, rumours of alleged moves by the federal government to increase the pump price of PMS led to the scarcity of fuel as some marketers began to hoard the products.
Faruk said, "As it is today, from our report we have over nine vessels currently engaged in discharging products in various depots across the country. From Calabar to Oghara. We have lister depot it's supposed to be discharging for Oando.
"We have Atlas Cove vessels discharging for PPMC. We have vessels discharging in Apapa. So all in all we have over 200m litres being discharged by various vessels currently as at today.
"So there is no need for any panic because we have the product there. And I can advise the general public just to calm down and go about their normal businesses, not to panic as the product is there.
"There is no need to really queue up for a long time waiting because we know that the product is there. In addition to the product that we already have in tanks, the vessels are also waiting to discharge."
On the money being owed to marketers, he said, "Before then some of the marketers were finding it difficult to secure credit lines in order to open letters of credit to bring their importation. But I understand that payments were made last week."
Vice chairman of the committee, Senator Danjuma Goje, decried the fuel scarcity problems being experienced in the country and called for the punishment of those responsible for the fuel Scarcity.
According to him, "I don't know whether it is NNPC or any appropriate agency charged with the responsibility of paying these importers had somehow failed to do that and as a result the importers had to cut down the amount of PMS they used to import and that caused fuel scarcity.
"We should guard against this practice where we don't do our work promptly. Once you have a loophole somewhere it takes days, it takes time before that incident is overcome.
"I will advise the Ministry of Finance or the NNPC or whatever agency is responsible for paying the importers to, in the name of God, and in the interest of the suffering masses of this country, do their work promptly so that we don't experience this kind of fuel scarcity again.
"It's a shame that, even to import fuel, we are still having problems. And if it is because somebody is not doing their job he should be fished out and punished to serve as a deterrent."