NANS - Oil marketers on Friday in Abuja called on the Federal Government to assist them in making foreign exchange available for the importation of petroleum products.
The marketers, under the umbrella of the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DPPMAN), made the plea during a meeting with the Minister of Finance held at the headquarters of the ministry.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the meeting, chaired by the minister, was attended by Chief Executive Officers of 46 major oil companies in the country.
It was held to discuss salient issues affecting the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.
The Chairman of DAPPMAN, Mr Dapo Abiodun, told the minister that members of the association were currently having a tough time converting some of the Naira payments made by the government to dollars.
He said their inability to convert these payments from the Federal Government from Naira to dollar was making it difficult for them to meet their obligations to their foreign partners.
He said while the oil marketers would continue to do their best in importing petroleum products into the country, the unavailability of foreign exchange might make it challenging to achieve such objective.
NAN recalls that Federal Government had paid the oil marketers N48.2 billion minus Value Added Tax as the arrears of outstanding 2015 subsidy claims.
The amount, according to the Federal Ministry of Finance, is to enable them to import petroleum products and meet up their other financial needs.
Abiodun said except the Central Bank of Nigeria provided foreign exchange to oil marketers, the payment made by the government for fuel imports would continue to sit in their Naira accounts.
"We look forward to dialoguing with you as to how you can help us expedite the sourcing of foreign exchange to liquidate our exposures to our foreign bankers that we have line of credit with.
"We are very worried about going into a new dynamics in which marketers are now going to be sourcing forex at the rate that they can find, which we have approximated to around N285 to a dollar.
" We believe that it is a quick fix solution to all the epileptic supply of petroleum products in the county.
"However, we still have this Naira sitting in our account from previous transactions and we are worried that if anything happens to the rate of exchange officially, we are going to be caught in between.
"We do not want to come back to you to ask for foreign exchange differentials which issue we still have pending from previous transactions," he said.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, said the payment recently released by the government to the oil marketers was one of the liabilities inherited by the current administration.
She said the government would continue to do what it could to ensure availability of petroleum products in the county.
She expressed optimism that the reforms currently being implemented in the oil sector would restore confidence in the market.