By Salawudeen Olawale
The federal government yesterday Wednesday ordered the immediate payment of the N150billion Petroleum Equalization Fund owed petroleum marketers in the country.
The order was reportedly given at a meeting among the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, and key players in the downstream sector.
The order, sources disclosed, would help to avert fuel scarcity which had become imminent in view of the debt owed marketers.
The N150 billion is said to be the bridging cost for the delivery of petroleum products across the country.
Speaking after a closed-door meeting which lasted for about two hours, the National Secretary of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Zarma Mustapha, told select journalists that after government had approved that payment should commence immediately.
He said: “The meeting had nothing to do with increase in petroleum pump prices. We looked into the issue of diesel and kerosene and as a matter of fact government is tackling the issues.
“The other issue is the issue of franchise which is the petroleum equalization fund which marketers are owed petroleum equalization to the tune of about 150 billion and now the issue has been resolved, the government has directed that our monies must be paid and I am assuring you that with the payment of this money there is no cause for alarm.”
“We are assuring our marketers that they should go back to their normal business as their outstanding will be paid in some few days.”
He added that tomorrow the stakeholders would also meet with financial authorities and then the payment will commence hopefully before the week runs out.
According to him, there would not be an increase in pump prices of petrol after the payment and some filling stations would sell for N140 as against N145 per litre.
“The government has instructed the minister of finance to pay the marketers and they have assured us that they will pay and as soon as the payment is done instead of N145 per litre, it can go for as low as N140 per litre.
So there should be no worries about increment of petrol,” the scribe said.
On May 11, last year, the government increased the pump price for petrol from N97 to N145.
It was gathered that the meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff and the downstream sector first held on Tuesday and reconvened on yesterday to take the final decision.
Those at the meeting which held at the Chief of Staff’s Conference Room included the Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika, Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Kachalla Maikanti Barum, representatives of independent and major oil marketers associations.
Finance Minister, Adeosun, Heads of Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and the Petroleum Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC).
The IPMAN scribe had on Tuesday said that independent marketers import mere 10 per cent of petrol needs of the country and they were expected to contribute N6.20 per liter as bridging allowance for all imported products in a resolving fund while they also submit ticket to PEF for claims after product delivery if the vehicle destination falls outside the 450 kilometer National Transport Average (NAT) as provided in the enabling statue.
He had also decried the fact that the debt has hampered smooth distribution of petroleum products across the country as members who took loans to set up filling stations were under heavy debt burden from interests that have accrued from the debt.