By Chibisi Ohakah [Abuja]
The Central Bank of Nigeria [CBN] has officially asked Deposit Money Banks [DMBs] to abandon all the interests charged on petrol subsidy-induced loans given to oil marketers from June 2017 to December 2018. This is part of new steps being taken to resolve the outstanding subsidy debts owed by the federal government to the oil marketers.
A close CBN source confirmed to Orient Weekend that two meetings; one in Abuja, and the other in Lagos, had been held among the apex bank officials, deposit money banks and the oil marketers during which the understanding was reached over the interests on the loans in question.
This paper gathered that in the banks’ books, marketers owe as much as N800 billion. “The CBN said to the banks, ‘rather than lose all that money, reverse one third of it, and we will find ways to pay the balance.’ The CBN did it on behalf of the ultimate debtor, which is the federal government,” the source said
The source said the oil marketers had received from the Debt Management Office [DMO] promissory notes, which was due on December 31, 2019, for the payment of the first tranche of N236 billion. National operations controller, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria [IPMAN], Mr. Mike Osatuyi, who confirmed the development in another chat, said some oil marketers has received the promissory notes for the first tranche while others are still trying to vacate court orders
Some of the affected banks said they would still, however, await necessary documentations of the understanding as a policy from the CBN before acting on the understanding. It will be recalled that late last year, the chief operating officer, downstream, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation [NNPC], Mr. Henry Ikem-Obih, after a meeting with officials of oil marketers in Abuja, told journalists that the remaining portion of the subsidy claims would be paid in 2019.
“We agreed that after the first tranche is paid, the marketers would form a committee to work on details of how the next tranche will be paid in 2019 and the last tranche in 2020. Government is fully committed to paying the first tranche as promised and will be paid through a promissory note that would be issued by the Debt Management Office,” he said.
Ikem-Obih said the federal government had insisted on making the payments through a promissory note, which was equivalent to cash and could be liquidated almost immediately.