Even as government sticks to its guns over the November deadline for full deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil sector, there are fears that the controversial N70billion debts allegedly owed by government as cost of bridging.
Sources confirmed to our correspondent last week that issues surrounding unsettled bridging cost remained unresolved and that government through the Petroleum and Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) has reneged on that vital part of the agreement which says that importers of petroleum products will be compensated for the extra cost that they may incur in the process of importing petroleum products at international market price while selling at government regulated price.
Already, four notable products importation groups are spoiling for a show down with government, insisting that the alleged N70billion debt must be paid before full deregulation can commence. They group include: Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN), Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Major Oil Marketers Association (MOMAN) and the Independent Petroleum Products Importers (IPPI).
Some of the depot managers in Apapa, Lagos who spoke to Shipping Position Weekly on the matter explained that PPPRA has consistently defaulted in the settlement of the bridging coast which according to them makes it possible for petroleum products to be sold at the same price in all parts of the country.
They confirmed that government agencies with specific responsibilities to ensure prompt payment and fair dealings have been unfair to importers, arguing that these agencies are doing more harm to the economy than they know.
Shipping Position Weekly had reported recently that importers of petroleum products were threatening to stop importation unless the indebtedness on account of bridging is addressed.
They had accused government agencies of delay in payment of these subsidies for as long six months in some cases, adding that waiting for payments often takes it toll on their businesses.
Government usually relies on two of its instruments namely: the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) and the Petroleum Subsidy Fund (PSF) to offset its indebtedness in the areas of bridging and other subsidy- related commitments.