Petrol marketers, under the Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association of Nigeria (NOGASA), have demanded full payment of arrears owed by the federal government under the now defunct Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) arrangement.

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The demand came as Crude Oil Refinery Owners Association of Nigeria (CORAN ), also urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to create an intervention fund for modular refinery companies in Nigeria, same way it did for the Dangote refinery.

Speaking during a press briefing in Abuja, National President of NOGASA, Mr. Bennett Korie, noted that without offsetting the huge debts running into billions of naira, it would be almost impossible for marketers to get new stock.Korie said with the new dynamics in the downstream, members would need to spend as much as N25 million, for instance, to purchase a 45,000-litre truck of petrol, which cost them N7 million previously.

Before the removal of fuel subsidy by President Bola Tinubu, the equalisation fund ensured uniformity of petroleum products pricing nationwide. The federal government would thereafter reimburse the marketers. But the NOGASA president stated that debts owed his members had made it impossible for them to return to the market, given the huge price differential.While pledging the support of the association to the subsidy removal directive, Korie explained that there were problems associated with the policy, which must be sorted out.

According to the NOGASA president, “We are 100 per cent in support of subsidy removal. But you know that they don’t talk about the problem behind the subsidy removal. It is good to remove subsidy, but there are things that people don’t know. For instance, some of the marketers don’t have the money to pay differentials.

“This is because in less than an hour that Mr. President announced the removal of subsidy, the price changed and that affected a lot of marketers. We are talking about millions of naira. Before the removal, a tanker of fuel was selling for about N7 million, but in less than an hour, it went up to N25 million.

“Where are they (marketers) going to get this money? Banks are giving loans at 30 per cent interest, so where is this money going to come from? That is a fresh problem that nobody is talking about. Subsidy was removed without considering some of these problems.”

He said, “Again, the issue of roads is another big problem that we are facing. Last year, I spoke about this road. Today, the problem is still there. I am not saying that government is not trying. But some of these roads are very bad. We are losing products.

“So, if you remove subsidy, use that money to fix the roads. It is important, not just to remove subsidy, but also to make it easy for us to do this business. Pay the PEF, fix the road.”

Korie noted that the marketers were literally working for the banks, with interest rate soaring.