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Senate Orders Pppra To Pay N634bn To Ferma

Source: thewillnigeria.com
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BEVERLY HILLS, March 24, (THEWILL) – The Senate has ordered the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) to immediate pay the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) N634 billion which represents the total amount PPPRA ought to have paid as 5 percent fuel users charge between 2007 and 2015.

According to the Senate Committee on Works, non-payment of the money was in violation of the 2007 FERMA Amendment Act, which stipulates a 5 percent fuel users charge.

Chairman of the Committee, Kabiru Gaya, explained that the revelation came to the fore at the panel’s investigative meeting with stakeholders to find solutions to funding of Nigerian roads.

“From the rough calculation, FERMA is requesting PPPRA to refund N634.8billion. This amount is twice Ministry of Works' budget for this year. So, it should be mandatory for PPPRA to refund the money or we will get a consultant to give us the exact figure because I know the figure will be more than this,” he said.

He added that the Minister of State for Petroleum; Managing Director, PPPRA; the Minister of State for Works; and, the Accountant General of the Federation have been invited to the committee’s next adjourned date of April 12 to explain their involvement on the matter.

However, the head of operations, PPPRA, V.Z. Shidoh, explained that implementation of the FERMA Act would lead to increase in fuel pump price as he urged lawmakers not to see the pump price as revenue, nothing that efforts to implement the five percent charge was aborted after public protests in 2007.

“The implementation of this 5percent will lead to increase in pump price, because the pump price is not a revenue. It is a cost element meant for specific activities in a template. We are looking at the pump price as if it is revenue; it’s not revenue,” he said.

“The template is a proposal of PPPRA. The implication of implementing all those elements listed is that there will be more financial exposure to government as long as we are under regulation. Because any element that you add a value, it will automatically increase the pump price which Nigerians must pay.”

However, the members of the committee including Senators Mao Ohuabunwa, Biodun Olujimi, and Barnabas Gemade faulted Shidoh’s submission, insisting that the charge is already captured in the current fuel price of N86.50 per litre.

Ohuabunwa castigated the agency for violating FERMA Act since 2007 with impunity while Gemade accused it of being deeply involved in corruption.

“Why should PPPRA pay billions in subsidy but fail to pay a legal fee to FERMA?” he asked rhetorically.

“You don’t understand the Act. That is why you add that 5 percent again on the price. And that is why you have the problem of people protesting against it. What you should have done is from the figure you put, the consumers should not be involved. Already, you have taxed the consumers.

“As you are deducting the 15kobo from consumers for the personal use of your staff, then you could have taken the money for the maintenance of the roads from the same money you are making. You are not going to add it to the consumers. That is what the law says.”

Story by David Oputah