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Senate Okays N348bn Subsidy Payment to Oil Marketers

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  • Senate Okays N348bn Subsidy Payment to Oil Marketers

The Senate has approved the payment of subsidy claims totalling N348bn to oil marketing companies based on a request by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The approval was made at the plenary on Wednesday following the adoption of the interim report by the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) on ‘Promissory Note Programme and Bond Issuance to Settle Inherited Local Debts and Contractual Obligations to Petroleum Marketers’.

While approving that 55 oil marketers be paid verified figures totalling N275,750,415,108, the upper chamber of the National Assembly asked that 19 marketers with contentious claims and verified figures be paid 65 per cent of their claims, amounting to N73,452,639,866, pending further investigation and verification by the committee.

Some of the notable marketers to get full payment are Aiteo, Bovas, Capital Oil, Eternal, Folawiyo Energy, Hyden, Integrated Oil, Mobil Oil Nigeria, MRS, NIPCO, NNPC Retail, Obat Oil, Sahara Energy and Total Nigeria.

Notable among those to get part payment are Conoil, Forte Oil, Honeywell, IPMAN Investment, Matrix Energy and Oando.

The request by Buhari, which was considered on May 31, 2018, was referred to the committee with the mandate to determine all outstanding subsidy arrears, interests accrued and forex differentials, as well as to compute a harmonised figure as the outstanding indebtedness of the government to the marketers for consideration and approval.

In the report, the committee noted the irregularities in the subsidy claim figures presented by the Federal Ministry of Finance and the marketers.

According the report, which was presented by Chairman of the committee, Senator Kabiru Marafa, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency verified and sent the sum of N429,054,203,228 to the Federal Ministry of Finance as subsidy claims. The marketers, however, claimed N670,497,543,158 as of June 30, 2018.

The committee said the ministry got the approval of the Federal Executive Council to pay the amount presented by the PPPRA as the verified subsidy claims.

The ministry was said to have sent the approved figure of N429,054,203,228 to the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit for further verification, which did a downward review of the amount to N407,255,263,288.

The report read in part, “The Federal Ministry of Finance indicates that the verified figures in respect of 19 oil marketing companies were either higher or very close to their claims, while those of the OMCs with higher claims got lesser figures.

“This issue, including the determination of the terminal date of the subsidy programme, amount paid to the OMCs and the interest accrued from 30th of June, 2017 to date will be taken up and resolved in the final report this committee will be submitting to the Senate in due course. This submission should be able to reconcile and bring to a conclusion all issues in respect of petroleum subsidy programme implementation and payments.

“Further verification needs to be made to ascertain the discrepancies between the OMCs and the recommendations for payment made by the FMoF (PICA) in this respect; the committee is of the opinion that interim payments should be effected to the OMCs pending full verification of PICA’s recommendation and updating of the full implication of interest accruals from 30th of June, 2017 to date. Continuous delay of the approval of the promissory note request will affect the liquidity of the OMCs and undermine their crucial role in the development of the economy.”

The committee added that the government’s inability to pay the OMCs as of June 30, 2017 had further increased its liability since the interest continued running, hence, the need for further work by the panel to compile and update the level of indebtedness and the interest accruals.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Economy

Electricity Consumers Get 611,231 Meters Under MAP Scheme

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Electricity Consumers Get 611,231 Meters Under MAP Scheme

A total of 611,231 meters have been deployed as at January 31, 2021 under the Meter Asset Provider initiative since its full operation despite the COVID-19 pandemic and other extraneous factors, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has said.

NERC disclosed this in a consultation paper on the review of the MAP Regulations.

The proposed review of the MAP scheme is coming nearly four months after the Federal Government launched a new initiative called National Mass Metering Programme aimed at distributing six million meters to consumers free of charge.

“The existence of a huge metering gap and the need to ensure successful implementation of the MYTO 2020 Service-Based Tariff resulted in the approval of the NMMP, a policy of the Federal Government anchored on the provision of long-term low interest financing to the Discos,” NERC said.

The commission had in March 2018 approved the MAP Regulations with the aim of fast-tracking the closure of the metering gap in the sector through the engagement of third-party investors (called meter asset providers) for the financing, procurement, supply, installation and maintenance of meters.

It set a target of providing meters to all customers within three years, and directed the Discos and the approved MAPs to commence the rollout of meters not later than May 1, 2019.

But in February 2020, NERC said several constraints, including changes in fiscal policy and the limited availability of long-term funding, had led to limited success in meter rollout.

NERC, in the consultation paper, highlighted three proposed options for metering implementation going forward.

The first option is to allow the implementation of both the NMMP and MAP metering frameworks to run concurrently; the second is to continue with the current MAP framework with meters procured under the NMMP supplied only through MAPs (by being off-takers from the local manufacturers/assemblers).

The third option is to wind down the MAP framework and allow the Discos to procure meters directly from local manufacturers/assemblers (or as procured by the World Bank), and enter into new contracts for the installation and maintenance of such meters.

“Customers who choose not to wait to receive meters based on the deployment schedule of the NMMP shall continue to have the option of making upfront payments for meters which will be installed within a maximum period of 10 working days,” NERC said.

The regulator said such customers would be refunded by the Discos through energy credits, adding that there would be no option for meter acquisition through the payment of a monthly meter service charge.

“Where meters have already been deployed under the meter service charge option, Discos shall make one-off repayment to affected customers and associated MAPs. Such meters shall be recognised in the rate base of the Discos,” it added.

NERC urged stakeholders to provide comments, objections, and representations on the proposed amendments within 21 days of the publication of the consultation paper.

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Economy

Nigeria’s Economy Moving in Right Direction but Slow – Amina Mohammed

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Nigeria’s Economy Moving in Right Direction but Slow – Amina Mohammed

Nigeria is moving in the right direction economically but its movement is not fast, the United Nations stated on Thursday.

Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, said this during a meeting at the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment in Abuja.

She said the challenges in Nigeria were huge, its population large but described the country’s economy as great with lots of opportunities.

The UN scribe stated that after traveling by train and through various roads in the Northern parts of Nigeria, she discovered that the roads were motorable, although there were ongoing repairs on some of them.

Mohammed said, “This is a country that is diverse in nature, ethnicity, religious backgrounds and opportunities. But these are its strengths, not weaknesses.

“And I think the narrative for Nigeria has to change to one that is very much the reality.”

Speaking on her trips across parts of Nigeria, she said, “What I saw along the way is really a country that is growing, that is moving in the right direction economically. Is it fast enough? No. Is it in the right direction? Yes it is.

“And the challenges still remain with security, our social cohesion and social contract between government and the people. But I know that people are working on these issues.”

She said the UN recognised the reforms in Nigeria and other nations, adding that the common global agenda was the Sustainable Development Goals.

Mohammad commended Nigeria’s quick response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as she expressed hope that the arrival of vaccines would be the beginning of the end of COVID-19.

On his part, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo, told his guest that the Federal Government was working hard to make Nigeria the entrepreneurial hub of Africa.

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N10.7tn Spent on Fuel Subsidy in 10 Years – MOMAN

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N10.7tn Spent on Fuel Subsidy in 10 Years – MOMAN

Nigeria spent a total of N10.7tn on fuel subsidy in the last 10 years, the Chairman, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr Adetunji Oyebanji, has said.

Oyebanji, who was the guest speaker at the 18th Aret Adams Lecture on Thursday, said N750bn was spent on subsidy in 2019.

He highlighted the need for a transition to a market-driven environment through policy-backed legislative and commercial frameworks, enabling the sustainability of the downstream petroleum sector.

“Total deregulation is more than just the removal of price subsidies; it is aimed at improving business operations, increasing the investments in the oil and gas sector value chain, resulting in the growth in the nation’s downstream petroleum sector as a whole,” he said.

The managing director of 11 Plc (formerly Mobil Oil Nigeria Plc) said steps had been taken, “but larger and faster leaps are now required.”

According to him, deregulation requires the creation of a competitive market environment, and will guarantee the supply of products at commercial and market prices.

“It requires unrestricted and profitable investments in infrastructure, earning reasonable returns to investors. It requires a strong regulator to enable transparency and fair competition among players, and not to regulate prices,” Oyebanji said.

He noted that MOMAN had recently called for a national debate by stakeholders to share pragmatic and realistic initiatives to ease the impact of the subsidy removal on society – especially on the most vulnerable.

He said, “A shift from crude oil production to crude oil full value realisation through deliberate investment in domestic refining and refined products distribution, creates the opportunity to transform the dynamics of the downstream sector from one of ‘net importer’ to one of ‘net exporter’, spurring the growth of the Nigerian economy.

“Effective reforms and regulations are key drivers for the growth within the refining sector. Non-functional refineries cost Nigeria over $13bn in 2019. If the NNPC refineries were operating at optimal capacity, Nigeria would have imported only 40 per cent of what it consumed in 2019.”

Full deregulation of the downstream sector remains the most glaring boost to potential investors in this space, according to Oyebanji.

He said, “As crude oil prices will fluctuate depending on the prevailing exchange rates, it will be astute to trade in naira to avoid inevitable price swings.

“There needs to be a balance between ensuring the sustainable growth of the crude oil value chain (upstream through downstream) and providing value for the Nigerian consumer and the Nigerian economy.”

He said the philosophy should be for the government to put the legislative and commercial framework in place and let the market develop by itself.

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