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Oil marketers demand total deregulation

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Oil marketers and private importers in Nigeria on Tuesday demanded total liberalization of the downstream sector as a major measure to end the culture of waste on fuel subsidy.


The Federal Government has appropriated a whopping N305 billion for fuel subsidy in the 2019 budget and the stakeholders unanimously on Tuesday declared that until the downstream sector of the oil sector is fully liberalized, the subsidy on imported refined products will continue to be a recurring factor in Nigeria’s energy mix.

Emphasising the need for government to have a re-think on the measure to deregulate and liberalised the downstream, the stakeholders including Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and Depot And Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN) said that only this could pave the way for more attractive investments in the sector.

The unfettered private sector participation and investment, they said in a statement, would be impossible with the current regime of highly regulated downstream market.

Chief Executive Officer/Executive Secretary, MOMAN, Mr. Clement Isong, said that the downstream petroleum industry regulations should be in line with international best practice.

The implementation and compliance with these regulations, he said, would feature the concept of cost recovery and competitive returns on investment. All these would ensure the sustainability of the downstream petroleum industry, Isong said.

“As the market players grow their business, they will increasingly become exposed to risk management challenges and will move their capital to areas where return matches the risks. We recommend that government should deregulate pump prices and focus on enforcing compliance with adequate regulations on health, safety, environment, and quality,” he said.

President Muhammadu Buhari had in December 2018 said that N305 billion has been earmarked for petrol subsidy in the 2019 budget proposal. Buhari stated this in his budget presentation speech to a joint session of the National Assembly in Abuja.

“We have earmarked N305 billion equivalent to one billion US dollars for under-recovery by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation on Premium Motor Spirit in 2019,” he said.
Isong however said that only total deregulation would save the situation. Contending that doing so will help attract more investments to the oil sector, he said only deregulation would encourage the establishment of private refineries and other related infrastructure in the country.

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FG sets up team to recover AMCON debt

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The Federal government has set up a special task force to recover over N5 trillion owed the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON). Membership of the task force comprises the heads of AMCON, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and Ministry of Justice.

The task force is expected to work out and implement new strategies to bring to fruition the federal government’s determination to recover the money.

A statement yesterday by Mr. Laolu Akande, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s spokesman, said the vice-president announced the constitution of the special task force during a meeting with board members and management of AMCON as well as selected heads of government agencies at the State House on Monday evening.

He listed agencies whose heads were in the meeting to include: Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu; Chairman, ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye; Director/Chief Executive, NFIU, Mr. Modibbo Tukur; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Sabiu Zakari and other senior government officials.

The statement quoted Osinbajo as telling the meeting that all relevant agencies had to re-strategize to achieve the desired results.
“The key is collaboration. We need a small team comprising these agencies to look at the next steps that we need to take, especially the criminal aspect, forfeiture and all of that.
“He said the task force should look at the top 20 AMCON defaulters closely and develop a plan of action that brings results.

“It would be recalled that the Vice President had previously in May met with AMCON management to discuss how to resolve the issue,” the statement said.

It also quoted AMCON Chairman, Mr. Muiz Banire (SAN), as saying that almost 67 percent of the outstanding N5 trillion debt was owed by only 20 individuals or groups.

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AMCON puts bad loans at N5 trillion

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Nigeria stands a chance of not being able to recover about N5.5 trillion bad loans that the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) took over during the banking crisis, according to the corporation.

AMCON MD, Ahmed Kuru

AMCON Managing Director, Mr. Ahmed Kuru, told journalists yesterday in Lagos that some persons behind the huge bad debt presently occupy leadership positions in the country.
Kuru spoke at the July 2019 Breakfast Meeting of the Nigerian – American Chamber of Commerce (NACC), where he was the guest speaker.

He, however, said the corporation was working with other sister agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) to produce a detailed television documentary on notorious and recalcitrant obligors of AMCON.

According to him, the documentary is to document in a permanent format for generations yet unborn to know “the so-called big men and women that are behind the over N5 trillion debt burden, which AMCON is battling to recover.”

The worrisome aspect of the issue, he said, unlike what happens in other clime was that such obligors still manipulate their way to emerge as members of the National Assembly, ministers, chairmen and women of big organizations and pro-chancellors of universities.

“Sadly, these are the caliber of people we respect in Nigeria but these people are not role models. How can you be a role model when you cannot honor a simple obligation? That is why I have been consistent in the call for the return of the Failed Bank Act.

“The way we are handling the issue in the country suggests that we are encouraging a lot of financial rascalities. People have to be held accountable for their actions, which I believe would serve as a deterrent to others.

“All economies all over the world depend on the financial infrastructure for growth. If we allow or encourage the destruction of the basis of our financial structure, then the economy would not grow. These are men and women who go to banks to borrow monies with no intention to pay and in the process bring down banking institutions. It takes a lot for a bank to fail. AMCON just rescued Skye Bank with an investment of nearly N1 trillion. In a decent society, those who are responsible are supposed to be held accountable.

“We are talking about recovering over N5 trillion debt, which sits with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and we know that the federal government through the CBN cannot afford to write the debt off so we just have to recover. With such huge recovery, the country can do a lot in the areas of infrastructure development in energy; rail line, health, road construction and a whole lot more. To enable you to understand the magnitude of what we are talking about, only 350 individuals account for 80 per cent of the debt amounting to N4.6trillion,” Kuru added.

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NNPC Suspends Cash Call Payment to Italy’s Eni

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The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has suspended cash call repayments to Italian oil major, Eni, for three months and did not plan to renew some of the firm’s asset licences.

NNPC owes billions of dollars to international oil companies (IOCs), including Eni, its share of operating costs for their joint ventures, better known as cash calls.
The corporation, has, however, paid over $2 billion of the debt, which was originally $5 billion.

This is coming as the Supreme Court in London will hear an appeal by Nigerian farmers and fishermen to pursue claims in England against oil major, Shell, over oil spills in the Niger Delta, lawyers for the two affected communities said yesterday.

NNPC’s refusal to pay Eni’s cash calls followed some disputes, which have hindered the development of some of the country’s oil assets.

NNPC has also disclosed its unwillingness to ensure the renewal of Eni’s expired licences.
In a statement yesterday by NNPC’s spokesman, Mr Ndu Ughamadu, the corporation promised to work closely with Agip to speedily resolve all pending issues that led to the suspension of the cash-call repayment.

The Group Managing Director (GMD) of the corporation, Mallam Mele Kyari, made the commitment on Tuesday during a business visit by a delegation from Eni/Agip led by the Executive Vice Chairman, Sub-Saharan African Region and Chairman ENI Exploration and Production in Nigeria, Mr Brusco Guido.

The statement quoted Kyari as saying that the failure to pay cash call arrears in the last three months was deliberate and meant to ensure that the issues surrounding the agreement settled.

“The money is there, it is ready. We will pay as soon as the issues are resolved by the end of the week,” Kyari stated.
On the issue of some of the expired assets, the GMD said there was no immediate plan to renew the licences as the federal government was interested in having the exploration and production arm of the NNPC, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), operate them.

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Politics

$1bn ECA Fund: We Paid $490m For Tukano Jets – Presidency

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The Presidency on Sunday said that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was under socio-emotional distress by alleging that the $1 billion approved from the Excess Crude Account for security was used by the All Progressives Congress, APC, for the 2019 elections.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu in a statement in Abuja on Sunday said that the government under the leadership of President Buharj made an advanced payment of $490million for a dozen Super Tukano fighter aircraft in a direct transaction with the American government.

The clarification was in reaction to a call on President Buhari to account for the $1billion drawn from the ECA.

Shehu who accused the PDP of profligacy while incharge of government at the centre, said the transaction was also on a no contractor and no commission basis.

According to the presidential spokesman, the balance of expenditure from the transaction currently stands at $880million.

He explained that ”It’s on record that the Buhari administration paid about USD 490 million for a dozen Super Tucano fighter aircraft in a direct, government-to-government (no Contractors or Commission Agents) transaction with government of the United State.

“Various other military procurements have been made. Balance of expenditure stands at about USD 880 million or so.”

Garba however accused the PDP of spending Defence procurement funds on their failed 2015 political campaigns as proven in court.

He said ”The PDP spent Defence procurement funds on their failed 2015 political campaigns as proven in court. That is not to say every succeeding government, more so one led by a Buhari will do the same.”

“The PDP is under a socioemotional distress. They think that all governments in the world run on the basis of freewheeling looting as they did their own, ” the presidential aide noted.

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