By Goodluck Ikiebe
Comptroller-General of Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Hameed Alli, has faulted the claim that over N6 trillion is paid as fuel subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) in 2022 fiscal year by Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited.
Alli while defending the NCS presentation on the 2023-2025 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Policy Paper (FSP) alleged that the 98 million litres of PMS daily consumption rate allegedly being brandished could not be substantiated scientifically, adding that over 38 million litres of PMS released daily in excess of actual consumption into the Nigerian market finds its way out of the country.
While responding to a question on the N11 trillion proposed fiscal deficit in the 2023 budget proposal as captured in the 2023-2025 MTEF/FSP, Colonel Alli said: “I remember that last year we spoke about this, unfortunately, this year, we are talking about subsidy again.
“The over N11 trillion 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.
“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. 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 litres per day? That is my problem. The issue of smuggling, 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?”
In his intervention, deputy Chairman, House Committee on Finance, Hon Saidu Abdullahi, argued that the amount being expended on fuel subsidy, which are supposed to be used for provision of social infrastructure are being diverted into private pockets.
Abdullahi, who presided over the session, affirmed that “as a government, we have not done well,” maintaining that the N6 trillion allegedly spent on fuel subsidy does not exist, just as he observed that it would require about 500 trucks to transport the daily PMS purportedly being consumed daily.
The NCS helmsman also expressed optimism that the service will meet the revenue projection of N2.272 trillion for 2022, N2.873 trillion for 2023; N3.540 trillion for 2024 and N3.752 trillion for 2025 respectively.
The lawmakers, who spoke during the engagement, queried the sums of N6.7 billion spent on legal matters out of N7.5 billion approved in the 2021 Appropriation Act, as well as the N9.2 billion proposed in the 2023 budget.
While responding, Colonel Alli explained that the service wrote the presidency for a virement of N4 billion to cater for pending legal debts, adding that inadequate funds may cause the service to pay as much as N20 billion for a suit of N3 billion if the Service loses.
Meanwhile, the lawmakers tasked NCS Comptroller General on the need to ensure remittance of 80 percent of the Operating Surplus to government coffers as encapsulated in the Finance Act, adding that the NCS should propose amendment to the extant law with a view to addressing whatever concerns that may arise.