Abuja - The Federal Ministry of Finance on Wednesday denied allegations by oil marketers that the looming fuel supply crisis was due to its failure to reimburse subsidy claims of marketers.
Yerima Ngama, the Minister of State Finance, made the denial, while responding to questions from newsmen in Abuja during the monthly Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting.
He was reacting to allegations made by the marketers to the effect that the ministry was responsible for the looming fuel crisis.
Ngama who read a statement issued by the Ministry insisted that government had been meeting its obligations to oil marketers in respect of all legitimate claims.
``The claim by some marketers that they have embarked on strike because the Federal Government has failed to pay them for fuel imports is not accurate.
``For instance between April and May 2012, batches D/12 and E/13 involving 14 oil marketers with a claim of 17 billion were fully settled through the issuance of sovereign debts notes and other relevant documentation.
``In addition since the directive by the coordinating minister to the Debt Management Office (DMO) to continue payments of all verified claims, N25.6 billion worth of claims has been fully settled with the issuance of sovereign debts notes.
``In all, between April and August 2012, in respect of PMS claims, Sovereign Debts Notes amounting to 42.66 billion have been issued to 31 oil marketers.''
The minister, however, said that the claims by marketers recommended for further investigation by the Aig-Imokhuede Presidential Committee had not been paid.
``Payments or sanctions to this category of marketers will be determined by the outcome of investigations.
``Against this background, it is clear that the strike was instigated mainly by marketers who were indicted by the Aig-Imokhuede Committee, which investigated fuel subsidy payments.
``Their obvious intention is to blackmail the Federal Government in order to escape the sanctions for the crimes they have committed. Nigerians should not be deceived by their antics.
Ngama warned that such tactics would not succeed because the Federal Government was determined to prosecute persons and organisation found culpable in the fuel subsidy regime payments.
``As we have communicated severally in the last few months, payments of marketers, whose claims have been verified will continue to go on in a consistent and structured way that protects the best interests of the country.
``All marketers, who have genuine issues to raise regarding their claims are encouraged to come forward for discussion or clarifications.''
Nigeria relies on importation to bridge the gap on inadequate local refining of petrol.
Under the subsidy regime, the Federal government invited private companies to participate in the Petroleum Support Fund (PSF) managed by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).
Under the scheme, importers sell the petrol at a lower price to the consumers compared to the landing cost, after which the Federal government reimburses the differences to them.