The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative on Tuesday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to prioritise the recovery of $19.1bn (about N3.8 trn.) from oil and gas companies operating in the country to provide the required funding for his administration’s economic agenda.
Details of the revenue consists of over $7.5bn from established cases of underpayments, under-assessments of taxes, royalties, rents, etc. revealed by several of NEITI’s independent audit reports since 1999.
The amount also include about $11.6bn, being total outstanding dividends from loans and interest repayments from Federal Government’s investment in the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas that was not remitted by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to the government.
The NEITI executive secretary, Zainab Ahmed, was speaking in Abuja at an oil and gas conference convened for experts in the oil and gas industry to articulate an advisory agenda for the new administration’s plan to reform the industry.
Mrs. Ahmed said the vigorous pursuit of the agenda to recover the revenue with all political will and seriousness it deserved would bring enormous benefits to the country, particularly at this time the new administration was in dire need of huge funding to tackle complex problems facing the country.
“NEITI is ready and willing to provide every information and data to assist the government to recover the funds,” Mrs Ahmed said.
Mrs. Ahmed said although the audit report had discovered that total dividend loans and interest repayment from LNG paid to NNPC in 2012 was $2.8 billion, the national oil company was unable to provide any evidence that the funds were remitted to the federation account as required by law.
“The total amount received by NNPC from LNG under the same circumstances, which have not been remitted to the federation account, stands at $11.6billion,” she said.
Criticizing the transfer of eight oil wells sold in 2010 and 2011 by the NNPC to its upstream subsidiary, the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company, the Executive Secretary called for a full investigation, as the whole transaction was not transparent.
“The Federal Government needs to carry out a full investigation into the sale to ascertain the actual cost of the oil blocks and revenue loss to the Federation in the whole transaction,” Mrs. Ahmed said.
On proposals for the removal of oil subsidy, Mrs. Ahmed said NEITI was in total support of the arrangement to save the nation from huge revenue losses and embarrassment that the management of the exercise has represented.
“It has been the position of NEITI that the oil subsidy regime is a fraud that should not be allowed to stand any longer,” she declared. “The amount spent so far annually is enough to repair the refineries, or even build new ones. Oil subsidy should be removed.”
The NEITI scribe advised the new administration to muster the necessary political will and implement the findings and recommendations contained in NEITI’s various independent reports, describing them as “quite comprehensive and insightful to guide the government to reform the sector.”
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