Buhari Moves Against Oil Cartel, To Bar Marketers From Importing Products

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*Aims to boost foreign reserves with recovered stolen crude funds

President Muhammadu Buhari is set to curtail the role of oil marketers in the importation of petroleum products by ensuring that only the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, imports petroleum products into the country.

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Godwin Emefiele who made this disclosure in a recent interview with Financial Times of London, said the move will reduce the corruption in the fuel importation regime as well as loosen the stranglehold of independent marketers on the industry as they would mainly rely on NNPC for products.

He said, “The president came on board and said that we will work very hard to reduce importation of petroleum products by ensuring that our refineries work. Our refineries are working now. Warri and Port Harcourt have started producing, they have not attained the optimal capacity but they will. Kaduna refinery will start working this month.

“Now, there are other actions that the presidency is putting in place to ensure that we reduce importation of petroleum products where the NNPC will solely, almost solely be responsible for procuring refined petroleum so those who are importing petroleum products will only just need to go to the NNPC and pick up petroleum products.

“So in that area I would say that we are already moving in the direction of reducing the import of petroleum products. And we will achieve it.”

On the president’s efforts to recover stolen oil monies deposited in banks, Emefiele said “As the Central Bank, we will also assist in drilling them once we get to that stage, and we will be happy to have that money back because it will improve our reserves.”

Speaking on President Buhari’s order that revenue-generating agencies operate a Treasury Single
Account, the CBN boss explained that, “once they receive the revenues, the revenues must come to the centre, and that means those revenues will come to the Central Bank of Nigeria.”

“We had instances where some of those revenues were trapped outside the Central Bank. The president came on and he insisted that all revenues come to the centre and that’s what we are saying, and it’s the reason why you are seeing some improvements in the reserves position,” he noted.

Emefiele also commented on the gap between the parallel market and the inter-bank rate.

“The gap is closing and I imagine that foreign investors should be happy that we are doing everything possible to close the gap. Based on that, they will believe us when we say that the parallel market is a shallow market, and that there is no need to use the parallel market as the benchmark for determining the real value of our currency.”

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