Finance Ministry Denies Claims Of Looming Subsidy-Induced Fuel Scarcity
ABUJA, May 29, (THEWILL) - The Federal Ministry of Finance has denied rumours of an impending fuel scarcity as a result of its recent decision to completely ensure that subsidy payments are made in a prudent and transparent manner.
In a release issued by Paul C Nwabuikwu, senior special assistant to Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the coordinating minister for the economy and minister of finance, the ministry said it would only continue to pay all marketers whose claims of fuel importation have been verified as genuine.
“The next meeting of the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee in June will provide the occasion for resumption of payments,” the statement stated.
The ministry maintained that while it is ready to work with relevant agencies for the common good of the country, it would not be stampeded into making hasty payments on deliveries that have not been substantiated or verified.
“Against this background, the ministry categorically rejects the idea that a prudent approach to verifying and making payments will lead to fuel scarcity,” the statement said. “Indeed, to say that the Ministry’s efforts to learn lessons from the past and reform the way payments are made will lead to fuel scarcity is simply not the case.”
It further argued that the ministry’s approach to the subsidy regime could best be appreciated considering that N451 billion of the N888 billion subsidy budget for 2012 has already been spent on arrears for 2011, based on PPPRA’s and NNPC’s claims.
“Since the NNPC/PPPRA estimate for the 2011 arrears was N232 billion, this means that more than double the projected amount has already been spent and those agencies are is still bringing in more claims,” it added, warning of the unsustainability of the trend, as the ministry has a responsibility to ensure that the lapses that may have led to this unhealthy situation are not repeated.
“That is the least that the Ministry owes the Nigerian people,” the statement noted. “In line with the directive of the president, the ministry will continue to work towards the improvement of the fuel subsidy regime, based on the lessons learnt from our recent experiences. The Ministry is determined to put in place a strong framework for the fuel subsidy regime that is both transparent and sustainable.”
The finance ministry vowed to continue with its approach to improving the subsidy regime, in order to achieve its core objectives, such as ensuring that the country’s finances are managed in a manner that clearly protects the interests of Nigerians; putting in place a system that ensures that only the genuine claims of genuine marketers are honoured; and performing its functions in an efficient and proactive manner to ensure that Nigerians get fuel at the right time and at the right price.