Following the approval by the National Assembly of the supplementary budget, which includes a provision for the payment of subsidy arrears, petroleum product marketers are expecting the issuance of Sovereign Debt Notes by the Debt Management Office for the settlement of the debts.
The delay in the payment of the subsidy debts to the marketers fuelled the latest round of fuel shortages in many parts of the country, similar to what was experienced in May this year.
On Thursday, long queues of motorists were seen in several filling stations in Lagos, with many struggling to get petrol in jerrycans.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in November sent a supplementary budget of N465.6bn to the National Assembly. The National Assembly reviewed the amount upward to N574bn, stating that the addition would help to offset the fuel subsidy for the last quarter of the year, which was not captured in the 2015 budget.
A breakdown of the approved supplementary budget showed that N522.2bn would be used for fuel subsidy payment.
Some marketers told our correspondent on Thursday that they expected the issuance of the SDNs to be a fast process in order to facilitate the importation of petroleum products into the country and end the current scarcity.
The Executive Secretary, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Obafemi Olawore, said, “They have approved the subsidy arrears, which is a very big thing, but the money has not reached our hands. We expect to get the money in a couple of days.”
Olawore, in a telephone interview with our correspondent, said the DMO had prepaid the SDNs a long time ago, but was waiting for approval to give them out.
“Now that the approval has been given, all that they need for them to start issuing the notes is a letter from the National Assembly to the Ministry of Finance that the subsidy arrears have been approved,” he added.
The Executive Secretary, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association, Mr. Olufemi Adewole, said, “We are expecting the DMO to start the issuance of the Sovereign Debt Notes soon, which we will take to our banks.”
Adewole stressed the need for the Central Bank of Nigeria to make foreign exchange available to enable the marketers to import petroleum products, saying all hands must be on deck to put an end to the current scarcity.