The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria has alleged that oil marketers may have concluded plans to sack their workers if the Federal Government fails to settle the N720bn debt owed the marketers.
PENGASSAN said this in a statement on Sunday, adding that the government’s settlement of the debt would not only avert the imminent sacking of workers, but also engender growth in the oil and gas industry, and develop the nation’s economy.
The National Public Relations Officer, PENGASSAN, Fortune Obi, signed the statement.
The debt, it said, “is the outstanding subsidy on the importation of petroleum products, accrued interest on loans from banks and exchange rate differential, which made the marketers to halt importation of refined petroleum products, leaving only the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to do the business.”
The body said if the government was genuinely interested in the growth of the downstream sector and wanted to attract more investments to the sector, then it should settle the debts owed the marketers.
It called on the government to verify the authenticity of the claims by the oil marketers and ensure quick settlement of the genuine debts.
The statement added, “The government should try to separate genuine claims by the importers from spurious ones and pay them because we will not like to be involved in the mistakes of the past where briefcase marketers milked the nation through dubious subsidy claims.
“A situation where workers in the industry bear the consequences of the inability of the government to honour its obligations as part of the importation deal will be unfair and unacceptable. This is against the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration policy of job creation.”
“As a responsible trade union, as much as we will support any move by the government to end subsidy regime and spurious claims by the marketers, we are also canvassing the payment of debt that can hinder the growth of the downstream sector and attract investments into the sector.”
Obi noted that in the last five years, the workforce in the downstream sector had been depleted by over 70 per cent.