The Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Tuesday gave confirmation to a story making the rounds that account of the Federal Government set aside for subsidy payments and lodged with the Central Bank of Nigeria was empty.
She gave this confirmation in a press briefing in Abuja, and said that the situation was due to technical hitches in the documentation with the CBN, and the transfer of funds meant for fuel subsidy payments from the excess crude dollar account to its naira equivalent accounted for the empty account.
She said even though the documentation process between the Ministry of Finance and the CBN takes about four to five days, the process of payment would not have taken so long if there was money in the naira excess crude account.
She said, “It doesn’t normally take very long if there was money in the domestic excess crude account to honour it and this takes effect immediately.
“Sometimes, we do shift money from one account to the other, and usually if the money is in the dollar excess crude account and we have to shift it to the naira account. That means, the money will have to be converted into naira by the CBN and we have to authenticate the amount and so on.”
She added, “But I have just been informed that the money is being credited to the account right now as we speak, and as soon as the account is credited on Tuesday, marketers with completed paperwork should go for their claims.”
She explained that the conversion and crediting to the account was being done, as is the responsibility of the Accountant-General.
This explanation confirms stories making the rounds that the Federal Government’s subsidy account was empty as oil marketers who went to the CBN on Monday came back empty-handed as the subsidy account with the bank had not been credited.
However, the Minister said that the supplementary budget of N161bn had been released, and out of it, paper work for a total of N94bn to 23 oil marketers had been concluded.
“This money was meant to take care of oil marketers, and as of December 31, the Ministry of Finance had gotten approval of this money to be made available in the CBN account where they can be accessed by the marketers once they have presented their papers and their Sovereign Debt Notes have been issued.”