By Dipo Olowookere
About N596 billion was used to import Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), commonly called petrol of fuel, into the country in the first six months of 2016.
This is according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
According to the NBS, Nigeria, which is currently battling declining economic fortunes, spent N276.226 billion on petrol import in the first quarter of 2016, while N319.28 billion was spent in the second quarter.
The figure showed that in the second half of 2015, N561.2 billion was spent to import petrol into the country, indicating that the amount appreciated by 6.1 percent compared with the 2016 figure.
However, the report pointed out that the amount spent on fuel import in the first half of 2016 was 12.18 percent lower, which is N82.63 billion less than the N678.13 billion spent on fuel imports in the first half of 2015.
The report also highlighted that the country spent N1.24 trillion on the importation of fuel in 2015.
For the first half of 2016, the NBS disclosed that Nigeria recorded total imports of N3.57 trillion. This meant that fuel imports accounted for 16.7 percent of Nigeria’s total import in the first six months of 2016.
Also, data obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) revealed that the oil sector accounted for 19 percent of total foreign exchange disbursements of $5.85 billion by the CBN in the first quarter of 2016.
On the other hand, the CBN noted that in the second quarter of 2016, the oil sector accounted for 23.3 per cent of the $6.09 billion foreign exchange disbursed by the CBN in the second quarter of 2016.
Recently, though, the difficulty in accessing foreign exchange and the declining value of the naira had made imported fuel expensive, a development which had led to calls in some quarters for a further hike in the price of the commodity.
This situation was further worsened by the inability of the country to fix the refineries, making the country to rely mainly on importation and other arrangements entered into by the NNPC, for about 95 per cent of the country’s fuel consumption.
Expectedly, the rising fuel imports had helped in no small measure in putting additional pressures on the country’s foreign reserves and contributing to the worsening economic situation.