How Buhari's Threat Prompted Fuel Scarcity

How Buhari's Threat Prompted Fuel Scarcity

Oil marketers have alleged that the president-elect, Muhammadu Buhari’s threat to discontinue the fuel subsidy policy triggered the artificial scarcity of petrol in the country.

Speaking with Union, the Executive Secretary of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Thomas Olawore, said the policy environment that will govern market operations after May 29 has been of major concerns to marketers.

With the present reality where the Federal Government and the oil marketers are yet to reach a compromise over the total amount paid as subsidy and the outstanding balance, Olawore revealed that, the hesitation has brewed uncertainty in the marketers.

The fact that no fund has been appropriated for subsidy in the 2015 budget also complicates the issue.

Olawore explained further that the N143 billion appropriated for subsidy in the 2015 budget was exhausted in the first six weeks of the year. Hence, emphasised that no marketer would want to import based on this development.

To reduce the artificial scarcity, Olawore opined that, it is imperative for the government to come clean and explain its moves on the issue to douse the anxiety in the market.

In Nigeria, the period of political transition is usually of key interest to investors and business owners. At this period, most business owners usually maintain caution in taking major business decisions until the policies or programmes of the incoming government are unveiled. Same applies to the oil marketers where most of them decided to freeze imports and sales of the products until the incoming government takes a decisive stand.

The fact that Buhari during his electioneering campaign vowed to discontinue the subsidy initiative makes it gloomy for marketers to predict it will be business as usual.

In the last one month, supply of petrol in the country has been epileptic with no indication of fresh import by marketers. This is due to disagreement between the federal government and the marketers over failure of the government to pay outstanding N200 billion subsidy claims.

While the marketers demanded the sum of N200 billion, government claimed the amount owed is N131 billion.

Though Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, coordinating minister of the economy and minister of finance, promised to raise an inter-agency committee to harmonise the figures, but the delay seems to be responsible for low apathy to import on the part of the marketers.


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