The federal government has begun the process of settling outstanding debts being accrued interest and foreign exchange differentials owed some oil marketers in the country.
The unpaid obligations were carried over from previous administrations.
This is coming on the backdrop of an approval by the National Assembly in September this year for the federal government to raise N348.003 billion through the Debt Management Office (DMO) to settle the outstanding debt.
“With the approval of NASS now in place, the DMO has accelerated the implementation of the programme, which it will implement in accordance with the process approved by FEC,” said the director general of the Debt Office, Ms Patience Oniha, in a statement yesterday.
Despite an earlier approval by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), the National Assembly’s approval was compulsory in order for the DMO to proceed to raise the money to settle the government debt since the process requires the issuance of sovereign debt instruments.
LEADERSHIP recalls that FEC had approved the establishment of the Promissory Note Programme and Bond Issuance to settle inherited local debts and contractual obligations due to various categories of creditors, including oil marketers, in July 2017.
A group of oil marketers under the title of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) and Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association recently appealed to the federal government to expedite action on the payment of the outstanding debt that was accumulated under the controversial subsidy regime.
While some of the issues involved in the implementation of the programme have been explained to representatives of the oil marketers, Oniha said the DMO had invited them to a meeting this week to explain the process to them and provide a status report.
LEADERSHIP learnt that the current administration had collated figures of the accrued interest and currency exchange rate differentials from various ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government in order to kick-start the process.
“Given that these were largely unverified amounts, it became prudent on the part of government to include processes that would be adopted in the implementation of the programme that would ensure transparency and value for money before the promissory notes are issued.
“One of such processes is the validation of the amounts against each creditor by an international accounting firm operating in Nigeria. Based on the approval by FEC, the DMO initiated steps towards the implementation of the programme, one of which is the appointment of advisers using the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, 2007,” the DMO DG said in explanation of previous steps taken to settle the debt while waiting for approval from the National Assembly.