The Federal Ministry of Finance said in Abuja that it would only make subsidy payments to those marketers whose claims had been verified as genuine. This is contained in a statement signed by Mr Paul Nwabuikwu, the Senior Special Assistant to the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance.
The statement noted that it was the role of the finance ministry to ensure that subsidy payments were made in a prudent and transparent manner and as such, it was now insisting on verification before payment. It dismissed speculations that prudence in subsidy payments would fuel scarcity, stressing that it would rather, help to check payment lapses in the sector.
“While it is ready to work with relevant agencies for the common good of Nigerians, the ministry will not be stampeded into making hasty payments on deliveries that have not been substantiated or verified.” The statement said that the next meeting of the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee in June would provide the occasion for the resumption of payments. It said that the ministry “categorically rejects the idea that a prudent approach to verifying and making payments will lead to fuel scarcity”.
“Indeed, to say that the ministry’s efforts to learn lessons from the past and reform the way payments are made will lead to fuel scarcity is simply not the case.
“It is the ministry’s believe that the new approach will best be appreciated if the claims of the PPRA and the NNPC are to be considered.” The ministry stated that based on the PPPRA and NNPC’s claims, N451 billion of the N888 billion subsidy budget for 2012 had already been spent on arrears for 2011. Since the NNPC/PPPRA’s estimate for the 2011 arrears was N232 billion, this means that more than double the projected amount has already been spent and those agencies that are still bringing in more claims.”
It stressed that “such claims can no longer be sustained; therefore the ministry owes it a duty to verify all claims to forestall repetition of the lapses that may have led to the unhealthy situation. In line with the directive of the President, the ministry will continue to work toward improving the fuel subsidy regime based on lessons learnt from our recent experiences. The ministry is determined to put in place a strong framework for the fuel subsidy regime that is both transparent and sustainable. The new approach will ensure that the country’s finances are managed in a manner that clearly protects the interests of the Nigerian people.” It was also meant to explore critical public policy choices that could be taken at country and regional level.