ABUJA (Reuters) – The Nigerian government has agreed to pay outstanding subsidy-related debt to oil product importers, a trade body spokesman said on Wednesday.
“They agreed to pay the remaining balance last week. Nothing has come yet but maybe this or next week. It’s 159 billion naira” ($800 million), Yakubu Suleiman, spokesman for the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, said.
He said he was present at a meeting last Thursday with the permanent secretaries of finance, oil and the state agency regulating the costly subsidy scheme for gasoline and diesel.
Nigeria, one of Africa’s top producers of crude oil, subsidises gasoline and other fuels. The country must import the bulk of the 40 million litres a day that it consumes owing to a neglected refining system.
An acute fuel shortage crippled Nigeria in April and May as fuel importers shut their depots to press their case. Importers were worried that the new government, elected in March, would not honour the debt.
The presidency did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to review closely the subsidy scheme, which was revealed to have paid out over $6 billion in fraudulent claims in 2012.