The Chairman of Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) Ledum Mitee has called on relevant government agencies responsible for custody and management of extractive resources revenue to take practical steps to recover the sum of $9.8090 Billion representing outstanding recoverable funds due to the federation account from oil and gas companies operating in the country.
Speaking at NEITI Stakeholders Forum on PIB in Lagos, Ledum Mitee explained that this huge amount which is equivalent to ₦1.3 trillion at the current exchange rate is huge enough to wipe out the current fiscal deficit in this year’s federal budget; “the above stated potential revenue loss due from under assessment/under payments has remained outstanding not just out of the refusal of the companies and covered entities to pay but also, if not more by the fact, that the concerned government agencies have not made sufficient efforts to recover the funds which the country desperately needs especially at this time”.
The NEITI Chair gave assurance that for the Board under his leadership to translate NEITI objectives into visible impacts in the life of citizens, the revenue accruing to governments as revealed by NEITI Audits reports have to be recovered and paid to the coffers of the Federation. He noted that; “The profound significance of the NEITI process in this regard arises from the salient highlights from the said audit reports. The Reports, for instance, reveal that the Federal government earned a total sum of $269 billion from the oil sector within the period 1999-2008. Within this period, $92 billion was received from oil-specific taxes, the sum of $5 billion from non-oil specific taxes from oil companies whilst $172 billion was received from sales of government equity crude”.
He expressed concerned that in spite of efforts by NEITI in providing important information and data on who gets what and how in the oil and gas sector, the Audit Reports have not been fully utilized to optimize revenue generation and utilization for national development over the years. Mitee identified the PIB as an important legal framework that must be used to address all institutional lapses, financial loopholes and fiscal inadequacies in the oil and gas sector operations and management;“Realizing, however, the key role of the oil sector in the development of our country and the felt need to reform the industry in a manner that is transparent and of benefit to all Nigerians, we have decided to organize this forum to initiate, promote and generate views from all the stakeholders in the oil and gas sector so as to fashion out an informed and balanced intervention during the impending National Assembly hearings on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB). We have thus brought here experts and key stakeholders in the sector to stimulate quality debate and enrich the contents of the Bill through suggestions, advise, experience and information sharing” he concluded. He expressed delight on the interest so far demonstrated by the National Assembly in the NEITI process and the Petroleum Industry Bill.
The Executive Secretary of NEITI, Mrs Zainab Ahmed described NEITI’s interest in the PIB as fundamental; “We in NEITI believe that the Bill must emerge as a law that respects fair competition, efficiency, professionalism, openness and prudent resource management while promoting investor interests. NEITI also thinks that financial, physical and governance issues provisions in the PIB should be such that citizens of Nigeria will feel the impact of the natural resources in their country”.
She reinstated the expectation of Nigerians that the PIB should help Nigeria overcome the syndrome of resource curse common to most resource rich nations. “We hope that at the end of the day, the new law will move Nigeria from oil exporting/importing to an oil producing, processing and exporting country. It is only when this happens that the wealth from the sector will be felt by ordinary Nigerians” she concluded.