The Senate has blasted the Federal Government and its agencies for not implementing the payment of petroleum subsidy claims by oil marketers in the country after it had approved payments back in July.
The knocks for the executive arm of government came during a stakeholders meeting convened by the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) in Abuja on Wednesday.
At the meeting, the Senators took turns to slam concerned agencies and parastatals of the federal government for slowing down the payment process for the oil marketers.
The committee consequently made a resolution that Finance Ministry convene a meeting with other concerned agencies as well as the petroleum marketers within one week to harmonise subsidy claim figures and discuss ways of fast-tracking the payment of arrears;
The Senate had approved a total of N348bn in July to pay subsidy claims of oil marketers upon a request by President Muhammadu Buhari.
This approval followed the adoption of an interim report by the committee on the promissory note programme and bond issuance to settle inherited local debts and contractual obligations to petroleum marketers.
During that particular sitting in July, the Senate had approved the sum of N275, 750, 415, 108 to 55 oil marketers, while it had 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 on the exact amount owed.
In his opening remarks, the Committee Chairman, Senator Kabiru Marafa, said the meeting had been convened to ascertain the level of implementation of the resolution of Senate regarding payment of the subsidy claims, as well the situation with the 19 marketers who had issues with their subsidy claims.
He continued that the committee also intended to fashion out solution to the constant conflict of subsidy figures between the government and oil marketers.
Defending the position of the Debt Management Office however, its Director General Mrs. Patience Oniha, said that while the payments had been approved by the Senate in July, the office did not receive communication regarding the resolution from the Clerk to the National Assembly until September.
The DG stated further that the payment processes were detailed in the request made to the Federal Executive Council, which was passed and forwarded to the National Assembly for approval.
Mrs. Oniha also said these processes, which are necessary steps to be taken, are still ongoing and the DMO will engage the marketers by mid- November.