No more: Banks suspend loans to oil marketers

Ebere Agina

Despite the accelerated payment of outstanding subsidy claims to oil marketing and trading companies, to enable them offset their indebtedness to the banks and access fresh credit facilities to fund fuel importation, the banks are yet to resume lending to many of the importers.

After the delay in the payment of the 2012 subsidy claims, due to the various probes by the House of Representatives and the Aig-Imoukhuede Committees, the Federal Ministry of Finance has since resumed full payment to the marketers.

Director -General of the Budget Office, Bright Okogwu, said recently that over N880 billion was disbursed to the marketers before the National Assembly approved a supplementary budget of N161.6billion to clear the outstanding claims.

He also debunked reports that there was no money in the subsidy account, adding that the approval of the supplementary budget was an indication that fund was available.

It was however gathered that despite the efforts to ensure that the marketers repay the money borrowed from the banks, many of the marketers had not been able to access fresh credits from the banks.

One of the marketers, who did not want his name published, confirmed that most of his subsidy claims had been paid but the banks had refused to lend many of them money for fresh importation.

“Before the subsidy crisis, it was the banks that used to chase us to come and collect loan but it is now the other way round,” he said. “We have been paid most of our claims and I am also aware that majority of other companies involved in importation have been paid. But the banks are yet to resume lending for fresh imports. The banks are very selective in giving out loans because marketers are no longer being paid within 45 days of importation products as stipulated in the Petroleum Support Fund (PSF) guidelines.”

He said the banks were concerned on interests that accumulate after 45 days, adding that the government should have been responsible for the interests, having defaulted in the payment.

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