Col. Hameed Ali (Retd.), Comptroller-General of NCS

Customs queries NNPC’s N6.34trn subsidy payment for PMS consumption

*Hameed Ali, Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, argues the NNPC Limited cannot ‘scientifically’ prove the 98 million litres/day petrol consumption in the country, which the Company is claiming

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Col. Hameed Ali (Retd.), Comptroller-General, Nigeria Customs Service, has said that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited cannot justify the volume of Premium Motor Spirit, otherwise known as petrol, being consumed daily in the West African country to warrant N6.34trillion annual subsidy payment on the commodity.

Ali said this Thursday, September 1, 2022, in his presentation to the Committee on Finance, House of Representatives, in the National Assembly (NASS), Abuja, FCT.

The Nigerian House of Representatives in session

The House has continued hearing on the proposed 2023-2025 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper.

The Nigeria Customs Comptroller-General contended that the NNPC could not “scientifically” prove the 98 million litres/day consumption it was claiming.

According to Ali, the Nigerian National Oil Company (NOC) is supplying an excess of 38 million litres of PMS daily.

The Committee on Finance had asked the Customs Chief about the deficit of between N11tn and 12tn in the 2023 Budget, as proposed in the 2023-2025 MTEF/FSP.

Report has indicated the Federal Government is proposing a budget with estimates totalling N19.76trillion, while the deficit will hover between N11.30trillion and N12.41trillion in the 2023 fiscal year.

Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, Honourable Minister for Finance, Budget and National Planning, who Monday this week, had appeared before the Committee, had decried that the Nigerian Government might be unable to provide for treasury-funded capital projects 2023.

The Minister attributed the likelihood to the dwindling revenue and annual payment of N6.34trillion subsidy on petrol.

Why I contest these figures with NNPC: NCS Chief

Ali,  however, faulted the NNPC on its subsidy claims.

The NCS Comptroller-General stated: “I remember that last year (2021), we spoke about this.

“Unfortunately, this year, we are talking about subsidy again.”

Ali also noted: “The over N11tn we are going to take as debt, more than half of it is going for subsidy.

“The issue is not about smuggling of petroleum products. I have always argued this with NNPC.”

He further noted: “If we are consuming 60 million litres of PMS per day, by their own computation, why would you allow the release of 98 million litres per day?

“If you know this is our consumption, why would you allow that release? “Scientifically, you cannot tell me that if I fill my tank today, tomorrow, I will fill the same tank with the same quantity of fuel.”

Ali told the lawmakers: “If I am operating a fuel station today and I go to Minna depot, lift petrol and take it to Kaduna, I may get to Kaduna in the evening and offload that fuel.

“There is no way I would have sold off that petrol immediately to warrant another load.

“So, how did you get to 60 million litre per day? That is my problem.

Addressing the smuggling menace

The NCS Chief remarked on the reported problem of smuggling of petroleum products in Nigeria.

Ali asked: “If you release 98 million litres in actual and 60 million litres is used, the balance should be 38 million litres.

“How many trucks will carry 38 million litres every day? Which road are they following and where are they carrying this thing to?”

The Finance Committee’s reaction to fuel subsidy payments

Saidu Abdullahi, Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Finance,  who presided over the hearing, complained about the funds under the subsidy scheme, which he stated should have been used to finance capital projects, but is being diverted into private pockets.

Meanwhile, Ali informed the Committee that the Nigeria Customs Service would meet its revenue projection of N2.272tn for 2022, N2.873tn for 2023, N3.540tn for 2024 and N3.752tn for 2025.

The Federal legislators, however, queried the sum of N6.7bn spent on legal matters out of N7.5 billion approved in the 2021 Appropriation Act, with another N9.2bn proposed in the 2023 budget.

He explained that the NCS wrote to the Presidency seeking virement of N4bn to cater for pending legal debts.

Inadequate funds may cause the Service to pay as much as N20bn for a suit of N3bn for default, according to him.

The lawmakers also tasked the CG of the NCS with ensuring remittances of 80 percent of the operating surplus to the government coffers as prescribed by the Finance Act.

The Committee urged the Customs to propose amendment to the extant law with a view to addressing whatever concerns might arise.

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