The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) International Chair, Clare Short has welcomed with optimism the unfolding positive enabling environment for reforms in the oil, gas and mining industries under the new government in Nigeria.

Clare Short made the remarks in Abuja while on a familiarization tour of NEITI Secretariat in Maitama. She stated that the time for Nigeria to deepen the process of implementation of NEITI Reports as basis for the proposed reforms in the industry appears to have finally come. “EITI has faith in the new administration in Nigeria. We are ready to work with the new government to reform the oil sector and NEITI independent reports in the sector will help to lead the way”. I am in Nigeria to convey our support to President Buhari.

Clare Short commended NEITI for its courage to put in the public domain reliable information and data on the process and financial lapses that needed to be addressed if Nigerians were to benefit from the abundant resources in the country.

The Chairman of NEITI Board, Ledum Mitee called on the International Secretariat of the EITI to provide creative guidance for member countries in the developing world on the implementation of new EITI standards on beneficial ownership and contract transparency. The NEITI Chairman explained that the guideline on public disclosure of beneficial ownership and contract transparency as presently outlined requires strategic approach if implementation would sustain the confidence of covered entities especially the companies. He pledged NEITI’s commitment to EITI principles.

The Executive Secretary of NEITI used the forum to disclose that from the most recent NEITI Report of 2012, Nigeria earned a total of $62.944 billion as revenues from oil and gas. She explained that out of this amount the difference between what companies claimed they paid and what government agencies declared they received into government coffers was $47million, representing an amount that could neither be reconciled nor accounted for.

She also disclosed that from the 2012 Audit Report over $210 million represented revenue loss to the Federation as a result of under assessment of taxes while a similar $465.8million was equally lost by the Country as a result of underassessment of the Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT), Royalty etc.

Mrs Ahmed used the opportunity to call for the implementation of the findings and recommendations contained in various NEITI Audit Reports as part of proposed reforms of the new administration.

The Executive Secretary reinstated NEITI’s position that the time for the Federal Government to remove oil subsidy has come. Mrs Ahmed said that from the last NEITI Audit Report of 2012, a total of N1,355 Trillion was processed for payment as subsidy. Out of this amount N690 billion was actually paid putting a debt burden of N665 billion on the Federal Government.

She explained that the NEITI position remains that the amount of funds so far expended on subsidy is more than enough to repair the refineries or even build new ones. “From our reports, the amount of money that Nigeria has paid so far on subsidy in the last seven years stand at N4.5 Trillion. The breakdown shows that N816,554 was paid between 2006 to 2008, N3Trillion between 2009 to 2011 and N690 billion in 2012. We in NEITI believe that this amount is more than enough to repair our refineries or build new ones. NEITI therefore stands firmly with Nigerians who share the fair position that the oil subsidy should be removed”.

The EITI Chair is leading a delegation of other implementing Countries on the working visit.

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