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Senate to engage CBN on FX for fuel importers

By on December 8, 2015

Senate-ChamberSenate is to engage the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the opening of a special window for petroleum marketers to access foreign exchange (FX), which had remained a major challenge to them in importing products to ease the ongoing fuel scarcity across Nigeria.

Uche Ekwunife, chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), who dropped the hint after an assessment tour of NIPCO plc terminal by the committee members, said they were worried that marketers were still not importing petrol owing to the myriad of hiccups in the procurement of FX to bring in products.

“As soon as we get back to Abuja, we shall engage the top hierarchy of CBN to get a first hand report from them on how to address the paucity of forex to marketers as well as their plans on how to facilitate forex to them,” she said.

She said Nigerians, expecting a major relief from the fuel crisis after the passage of the supplementary appropriation bill of over N10.6 billion fuel subsidy claims for marketers, were amazed that the product was still not available in the right quantity to guarantee continuous availability at all fuel stations.

According to her, investigations by the committee have shown that payment of the subsidy claims is no assurance of petrol availability as marketers are facing a herculean task getting FX to import even as most of them had opened several letters of credit awaiting FX warranty by the CBN.

The Senate needs to meet the CBN governor to explain how FX will be made available as a matter of priority to marketers in view of the primacy role of petrol to motorists and other industrial users, she said.

Ekwunife, who commended NIPCO for blazing the trail among marketers, except NNPC, to bring in cargoes of petrol even with all the challenges of subsidy and other ancillary issues facing the sector, said their effort was exemplary even as she pleaded to other marketers to emulate them.

The chairman, who was taken round the MT Champion that brought the second import cargo of the company, expressed delight in the efforts of NIPCO and assured that all the issues affecting the sector would be placed on front burner to ensure that Nigerians did not suffer any hardship in getting petrol this period.

Venkataraman Venkatapathy, managing director, NIPCO, said the coming of the senators was historic for the company as the second import vessel of the company – MT Champion, which berthed with about 37 million litres of petrol started discharging on the day of the inspection.

According to him, the depot had not only insisted on selling at the government official rate of N77.66K depot price but had also ward off middlemen in and around the depot to avoid any racketeering by those who may want to catch in on the low price of the company to rip off motorist.

Venkataraman said the first vessel, which berthed about 10 days ago, had loaded out over 1,200 trucks to all the nooks and crannies of the country on a night and day loading for six days, in a bid to ease the fuel scarcity.