The Federal Government has paid importers of petroleum product N32 billion out of the outstanding subsidy debt of about N73Billion in order to persuade companies to go back to importation and stem the tide of scarcity of products.
Industry sources hinted Shipping Position Weekly last week that government has plans to pay the outstanding N41billion sometimes this week which is to be the final batch of audited claims awaiting payment.
The money according to sources is to be disbursed by the Central Bank of Nigeria as foreign exchange difference arising from the sudden increase in the cost of procuring foreign exchange to import fuel.
Marketers had in the third quarter of 2009 abandoned importation in protest over the non payment of the subsidies which cover the actual costs of imports and the regulated domestic fuel price maintained by the government.
The minister of state for petroleum Mr. Odein Ajumogobia who held a stakeholders parley recently in Lagos directed that all outstanding indebtedness should be settled and that importers of petroleum products should go back to importing products into the country according to the system operated before.
He had said that “It is a shame that a country that produces crude oil in the quantities we do can not distribute refined product, we want to see a situation whereby we will no longer be queues at the filling stations”.
Our correspondent however gathered that marketers are still skeptical about going back to importation, saying that unless the government renew their licenses and give them assurances before they can go back to importation.
Sources close to the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) hinted that the importers have refused to use the license of the fourth quarter of 2009 to bring in product for the first quarter of 2010 and have stated that the license should be renewed.