Extractive companies underpaid $10bn in taxes, royalties – NEITI

The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, on Monday, told members of the House of Representatives that part of its findings in the extractive industries showed that some companies operating the sectors underpaid over $10bn in taxes and royalties to the Federal Government.

NEITI disclosed this in a presentation to the lawmakers that detailed some of the impacts of the agency in the oil, gas and solid minerals sectors in Nigeria. The presentation was delivered by the Deputy Director/Head Communications and Stakeholders Management, NEITI, Obiageli Onuorah, at the agency’s headquarters in Abuja.

This came as the House of Representatives vowed to push for the privatisation of Nigeria’s refineries in order to make them more efficient and beneficial to Nigerians.

Although the slide that captured the amount that was underpaid by extractive firms in Nigeria did not state the duration, it pointed out that the $10bn was for under payment and under assessment of taxes and royalty.

Stating the impacts of NEITI during the presentation to the lawmakers, Onuorah said the agency ensured that there was “a specific law on EITI (NEITI Act 2007); ongoing reforms in the extractive sector – NNPCL, mining sector; disclosure of under payment and under assessment of taxes and royalty to the tune of over $10bn; amendment of PSC (Production Sharing Contract) Inland Basin Act;” among others.

NEITI also told the lawmakers, who were at the agency on a courtesy visit, that its policy advisory had identified some priority areas to be tackled by the new administration of President Bola Tinubu.

It said some of them include the “introduction of welfare programmes for the poor and the vulnerable. With the subsidy now gone, NEITI recommends that the government immediately launch a comprehensive welfare programme from the savings from subsidy.”

It added that there should be deliberate policy incentives to encourage private investment in refineries.

“A deliberate policy initiative should be implemented with full presidential backing to encourage Nigerians and foreign investors already awarded licenses to establish private refineries in Nigeria,” the agency stated.

In his response, the leader of the delegation of lawmakers and Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), Ikenga Ugochinyere, said the National Assembly would work towards the amendment of the NEITI Act.

This, he said, would empower “NEITI to take disciplinary actions against offenders and also empower NEITI to investigate offences and recommend the prosecution of offenders by relevant investigative and prosecutorial agencies of the Federal Government.”

Ugochinyere also stated that his committee would push for the privatisation of Nigeria’s refineries in coming days.

“Let me also disclose to you one of the things that our committee is going to be championing in days ahead, which is for the privatisation of some of our nation’s refineries.

“You will agree with me that for decades we have been on this refinery issue and we have spent money that if they use it to build new refineries, we would have built like two or three refineries. So it is better that these refineries are privatised to make them more efficient,” he stated.

(Punch)

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