NEITI cries out to Buhari over unremitted $18bn oil funds, seeks recovery

Posted by News Express | 10 June 2015 | 3,303 times

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The Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) yesterday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to consider making it a priority of his government to recover the $18.1 billion unremitted oil and gas funds from oil and gas companies operating in Nigeria.

NEITI said that over $7.5 billion, which represents underpayments, under-assessment of taxes, royalties and rents as revealed by several independent audit reports of the agency, as well as $11.6 billion which represents outstanding total dividends arising from loans and interest repayments from the federal government’s investment in the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) company were still outstanding.

The Executive Secretary of NEITI, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, stated in Abuja that while these monies were still outstanding, issues around their recoveries had not been adequately addressed in the past.

A statement from the agency’s head of communications, Ogbonnaya Orji, disclosed that NEITI had made this call to Buhari at an oil and gas conference, where agenda for the new government with regards to its expected reform of the sector, was articulated.

Ahmed said that at a time the new administration is in dire need of funds to tackle the complex problems facing the nation, the recovery of the funds should be pursued vigorously with the political will and seriousness it deserves.

She expressed the commitment of the agency on its availability and willing to assist the federal government with institutional support on recovering the funds, especially with regards to the provision of information and data needed for the recovery.

“Our 2012 audit report discovered that total dividend loans and interest repayment from NLNG paid to the NNPC in 2012 was $2.8 billion. However, in the course of NEITI’s audit, NNPC was unable to provide any evidence to show that the funds were remitted to the federation as required by law.

“The total amount received by NNPC from NLNG under the same circumstances which have not been remitted to the Federation Account stands at $11.6billion,” Ahmed said.

NEITI equally called for a full investigation into the transfer of eight oil wells to the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) in 2010 and 2011.

Ahmed said: “The position of NEITI is that the whole transaction was not transparent. The federal government needs to carry out a full investigation to ascertain the actual cost of the oil blocks and revenue loss to the federation in the whole transaction.”

She also communicated NEITI’s position on the removal of oil subsidy to the government, saying that its discontinuation would save the nation from huge revenue losses and embarrassment that the management of the exercise has represented.

According to her, “It has been the position of NEITI that the oil subsidy regime is fraudulent that should not be allowed to stand any longer, the amount spent so far annually is enough to repair the refineries or even build new ones. Oil subsidy should be removed.”

Ahmed however advised the new administration to galvanise the necessary political will for the implementation of the other findings and recommendations contained in NEITI’s independent reports, which she stated were quite comprehensive and insightful to guide the government in its reform of the sector.

•Text: ThisDay. Photo shows NEITI Executive Secretary, Zainab Ahmed.

Source: News Express

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