Sunday, May 24, 2015

Stakeholders List Steps to Ending Lingering Fuel Scarcity
by GBENGA ODOGUN on May 25, 2015
The Nation, Nigeria

Against the backdrop of the lingering fuel scarcity that has plagued the country in the last one month, stakeholders have been expressing concerns that the crisis may not go away any time soon, while also suggesting way out of the lingering fuel scarcity.

This follows the return of queues on the streets due to oil marketers suspension of importation in what was attributed to government’s refusal to pay the outstanding subsidies allowance owed them.

“The decision to suspend the importation of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), was due to the Federal Government’s failure to pay them their claims” said a source at the depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association, DAPPMA, adding that most of the marketers have not been paid by the FG and this is limiting their ability to fi nance the importation of fuel.

According to our source “The money that the marketers were paid by the Federal Government was, according to the banks, like a tip of the iceberg, compared to the huge amount the marketers owe the banks” Majority of the marketers are not able to repay their indebtedness to the banks, making it impossible for them to secure new facilities from the banks to fi nance fuel import.

Meanwhile, experts and stakeholders continue to express concerns about the wave of fuel scarcity with some expressing the view that unless the federal government takes the diffi cult decision of removing subsidies and allow market forces dictate the pump price of products, we may not experience reprieve from the saga of perennial fuel scarcity at least not in the near future.

Mr Tonye Cole is the Chief Executive of Sahara group, he warned that Fuel scarcity is unlikely to end soon due to three main reason namely; change of government, prospects for removal of fuel subsidies and weakening Naira, adding that the combination of these factors will affect ordinary Nigerian in the nearest future.

“Despite being biggest oil producer in Africa, Nigeria is heavily dependent on gasoline imports to meet domestic demands. Gasoline subsidies incurred by the government on every litre of the product had to be cut by the cash-strapped government recently by 90 per cent and it is expected that they are going to be totally phased-out soon.”Tonye said

Also speaking on the same topic of fuel scarcity Barrister Opeyemi Bamidele said has the absence of a provision for fuel subsidy in the 2015 Appropriation Act is a booby trap for the incoming administration of the President-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.

Opeyemi Bamidele, Opeyemi Bamidele, The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Legislative Budget and Research, stated in a statement that Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) should understand the full implications of this and take immediate steps to let Nigerians know where they stand on the matter .

“The truth and reality of the situation is that the outgoing PDP administration has, through the 2015 budget, removed oil subsidy and it must be made to accept responsibility for it rather than for the incoming APC administration to bask in the euphoria of having won an election without realising the booby trap into which they and the Nigerian people are walking into,” he stated

Bamidele, stated that apart from the reduced amount of N21bn provided in the Act for the Subsidy Reinvestment Programme, no other provision was made in the budget for subsidized welfare services.

He warned that the absence of the provision for continued fuel subsidy portends grave implications for the Buhari administration as they would be sending Nigerians a wrong signal capable of creating the impression that the APC deceived Nigerians to get there.

Meanwhile, as the disagreement rages on as to how much is being owed the marketers or even whether they were being owed at all Nigerian in the meantime continue to suffer under the yoke of high transportation cost and unbearable heat waves due to lack of petrol to power generators which has become the only source of power generation for most households in the country.

Apart from this, many businesses whether small scaled, medium or large scaled continue to groan under the yoke of fuel scarcity. Ajoke is a retail soft drink seller on Broad Street, Lagos, she told Business Courage that the whole of last week had been terrible in terms of sales as he had recorded more than 50 percent drop in sales due to lack of petrol to power her fridge to ice her drinks since electricity supply is literarily non existence in her area. Similarly, Chuks, an Electronic seller at Balogun Market said patronage has dropped drastically in the last one month due to lull in the economy made worse by the absence of fuel.

However, and in spite of the non loading activities at the depots, petrol was still being hawked openly at black markets across the Lagos Metropolis sometimes right in front of fi lling stations, in full view of security operatives and at exorbitant rates. At Berger Bus stop, fuels were sold in jerry cans at N200 per liter, the story is not different at Onipanu along Ikorodu Road where the security operatives appeared helpless.

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