June 13, 2024

The House of Representatives has called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to remove obstacles hindering Nigerians from accessing the N250 billion gas expansion facility at the bank. Rep. Benson Babajimi, the chairman of the ad hoc committee on the petrol price hike, made this request during a meeting with CBN officials on Wednesday.

Mr. Babajimi emphasized that removing these bottlenecks is crucial to mitigate the impact of the removal of petrol subsidy on Nigerians. He urged the CBN, as the overseer of commercial banks, to utilize its authority and power to make the process of accessing the gas expansion facility seamless.

In response, Clement Osawi, the programmes manager at CBN, acknowledged the existence of the Oil and Gas Stabilisation Fund as an intervention fund. He explained that most CBN interventions go through commercial banks and are directed to qualified beneficiaries. However, due diligence and feasibility studies are conducted by the commercial banks to assess the capacity of applicants.

Mr. Osawi pointed out that some applicants, particularly those venturing into new businesses, may face challenges in accessing the funds because of the difficulty in evaluating their capacity. He highlighted the importance of providing funds to establishments with proven track records to avoid allegations of mismanagement.

Regarding the IPMAN (Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria) mentioning the facility, Mr. Osawi mentioned that the CBN could announce the facility’s existence and request qualified beneficiaries from commercial banks. However, the commercial banks may take time in sending qualified beneficiaries due to their rigorous evaluation process.

Mr. Osawi assured that he would relay the committee’s message to the CBN’s management for further action. He attributed the current hike in petrol prices to factors such as the exchange rate and global oil market dynamics.

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