The Senate Committee on Appropriation on Monday directed the Federal Ministries of Petroleum Resources, Budget and National Planning and Finance to reconcile their records and include an additional N108bn in the N465.3bn supplementary budget submitted to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari two weeks ago.
The additional amount, according to the committee, was the subsidy claims due for payment to the major oil marketers between October and December 2015, which was not included in the N413bn subsidy claims due from January to September 2015.
The committee also asked the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to furnish it with the details of the N437bn which had so far been paid to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation as its subsidy claims but was not appropriated by the National Assembly.
The Chairman of the committee, Senator Danjuma Goje, said at a meeting with the ministers and heads of Federal Government agencies that intelligent reports at the disposal of the panel indicated that the petroleum ministry was seeking an approval of N413bn out of the total N950bn accrued subsidy.
Goje alleged that while the ministry had paid the subsidy due to the NNPC, as first line charge being its own share of the 48 per cent of the fuel it imported, the subsidies due to the oil marketers had been withheld.
He said the inclusion of the N108bn would enable the Senate to approve the money so that the minds of Nigerians would be at rest and the oil marketers would not hold the nation to ransom during the festive season as a result of the outstanding debts.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Jamila Suara, told the committee that she was representing the minister, Ibe Kachikwu, who was in Lagos to hold meetings with major oil marketers.
She said her ministry’s proposal was N413bn, being a component of N120.552bn outstanding for 2014 and N292.8bn for subsidy from January to September 2015.
She said, “We just called the attention of the budget office to the fact that the proposal for the last quarter had not really been captured because it was about N108bn. When we started discussion on it, it was much earlier in the year; hence, the tidying up was not completed.”
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions) Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, noted that there was no clear synergy between the Ministry of Budget and the Petroleum Resources Ministry.
He then asked whether the N413bn figure included the exchange rate differential and the accumulated interest being claimed by the importers or whether they were agreed figures between them and their bankers.
Also, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Senator Tayo Alasoadura, questioned the details of the subsidy request and demanded that exact payment due to each of the major oil marketers should be highlighted for the purpose of oversight.
The Chairman of the committee, Senator Danjuma Goje, explained that the ministry had been requested to provide the details of the issues relating to subsidy payment from the last quarter of 2014 till date.
He said, “We need the audit details for the purpose of oversight. Nothing stops us from going back to the issues even after the approval of the supplementary budget. We need to know the beneficiaries of the subsidy, and how they came about it.”
Goje asked the permanent secretary to guarantee the committee that the oil marketers would not hold the nation to ransom during the festive season because of the outstanding N108bn subsidy claims.
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Mr. Udo Udoma, sought the leave of the committee to allow his ministry meet with the Petroleum Resources and the Finance for the purpose of including the additional N108bn in the supplementary budget.
The committee approved the suggestion and asked Udoma to coordinate the process and submit the report by 3pm on Monday.
Goje said, “Our committee will submit the report at plenary on Tuesday (today). So, we are doing everything within our powers to ensure that we beat the deadline, hence we invited all the stakeholders to make a final input into the budget. We want to ensure that the issue of fuel scarcity becomes a thing of the past in this country.
Also, Senator Bassey Akpan, who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Gas and also a member of the Appropriation Committee, said, “From our own intelligence, the total subsidy today is about N950bn.”
He said, “What the NNPC and PPRA are reporting is the subsidy due to major oil marketers alone. Major oil marketers import 52 per cent while NNPC imports 48 percent.
“So, the subsidy that the NNPC is presenting, in our opinion, is subsidy due to oil majors only and we asked what is the subsidy due to the NNPC on the basis of their own importation of 48 percent of the total fuel consumption in the country?”
He added that the committee had agreed with the Petroleum Resources ministry that the major oil marketers will take care of the exchange rate differential with the oil majors.