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Senate approves N129 billion to offset subsidy debts owed petroleum marketers

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THE Senate on Thursday approved the payments of outstanding subsidy debt of N129 billion owed petroleum marketers in six years for importing refined crude into the country.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Downstream Sector, Kabir Marafa, had presented to the upper legislative house its report titled “The Promissory Note Programme and a Bond Issuance to settle Inherited Local Debts and Contractual obligations to Petroleum Marketers”.

Moving a motion for the report to be considered, Marafa noted that the said sum of N129 billion was the last payment to 67 petroleum marketers.

“It was first considered on the 31st of May 2018. After submissions made by the ministry of finance we observed as follows that the oil subsidy arrears claims were based on three elements namely; subsidy, forex differentials and bank interests,” he said.

He explained that the committee had spotted areas that should address the debts owed the marketers.

“The recent claim is based on one of the identified elements that are the forex differentials. It is pertinent to note that this is that last tranche of payment.

“The committee after due consideration [recommends] that the Senate approve the sum of N129 billion as final subsidy arrears claim,” he said.

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Victor Umeh, senator representing Anambra central, wondered the next line of action after the sum has been paid which is what should happen to proceeds from crude oil after paying off the subsidy debts.

The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekwerenmadu, who presided over the proceedings praised the committee and thanked them for their hard work.

The fund was approved after it was put to a voice vote by Ike Ekweremadu, deputy senate president.

Meanwhile, the Senate adjourned till June 6 for its valedictory session.

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Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.

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