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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Job Racketeering: You’ve 24 hours to appear before us, Reps tell IPPIS Boss, others 

The House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Job Racketeering has summoned the Director of Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) and Accountant General of the Federation to appear before it on Thursday or face the wrath of the parliament.

The Committee also invited the former IPPIS Desk Officer at the Federal Character Commission (FCC), Haruna Kolo and his current employer, Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) to show up at the hearing, unfailingly.

Chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee, Hon. Yusuf Gagdi who issued the summons at the resumed hearing of panel on Wednesday said the lawmakers will exercise their constitutional powers on Kolo and any other agencies that fail to appear before it on the appointed day.

Kolo had appeared before the panel on Monday when he told lawmakers that he had being collecting between N1m to N1.5m for the FCC Chairman, Muheeba Dankaka from individual applicants before he left the Commission.

The Ad-hoc Committee directed him to return on Tuesday for further interrogation but he failed to appear even on Wednesday.

This was as the Driver and Personal Assistant to the Taraba State FCC Commissioner, Abdulraman Ibrahim who appeared before the Committee on Wednesday denied being part of those that were employed in 2022 as alleged by Kolo.

Ibrahim said: “I came to FCC in 2022 with the Taraba State Commissioner. The Commissioner pays me from his personal salary and I was not employed alongside the those that were employed in 2022.”

The Committee’s Chairman in his intervention insisted that Kolo must appear unfailingly to substantiate the allegations against him just as the agencies that are critical to the ongoing probe.

“The Committee is in a dilemma why the IPPIS is absconding from the sitting. The Desk Officers of IPPIS Head of Service and Budget Office, why are they absconding? We have interacted with the Accountant General of then Federation and demanded that the IPPIS should post two persons here.

“The IPPIS that they are capturing, why was Kolo so comfortable to take people at will to IPPIS office for capture. Clerk summon the Accountant General and the Director of the IPPIS to be here tomorrow at 10am. I don’t know why they are running away.

“Secondly we are equally confused but we have solution as to why would Kolo come here. He got a notice for 12 o’clock and one o’clock he is in this hall. Only for us to ask him to return yesterday and to ask him to be here today and he absconded. I will sign a letter officially to AMCON to produce Kolo tomorrow by 10 am. At least we have given benefit of the doubt twice.

“Clerk call AMCON on phone and send text to AMCON, let them come here with Kolo. AMCON is supposed to appear before us today. Why are they not appearing. Do they know something about what Kolo is doing and why they admitted him in AMCON?

“AMCON should come. Kolo should appear tomorrow otherwise we would exercise our constitutional powers on Kolo and any other agencies that fail to appear before this committee from tomorrow,” Gagdi said.

Meanwhile, the Committee’s Chairman has called on the Federal Government to scrap waivers for employment as Ministries Departments and Departments (MDAs) were committing fraud with them through bypassing public advertisement for jobs.

This was just as the Acting Director General of Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN), Sunday Olaide who appeared before the lawmakers said the agency obtained a waiver to bypass employment advertisements.

In swift response, Gagdi said: “Waiver is a fraud pending our recommendation from the House of Representatives because agencies are hiding under waiver to recruit their family members, friends, those that give them money, to sell slots, etc.

“No agency has any reason not to advertise vacancies for recruitment. But every agency does not want to advertise. Why? You recruit 100, 200, 300, 900, 100, splitting it into three installments without going to the public to tell Nigerians that they have vacancies and are inviting qualified Nigerians to apply for such things.

“So take it or leave it, agencies are hiding under waivers to perpetuate employment racketeering and other employment related fraud. That is our position. Because there is no agency that would appear here that would not give you a certificate of waiver. Most of the agencies would not bring even a one paged advert in any national daily for its recruitment. So it is a fraud.”

A member of the Committee, Hon. Amobi Godwin Ogar (APC, Abia) also said government agencies were deliberately seeking waivers to corrupt the proper process of employment.

He said: “From the report that you have submitted on the request for waiver, I noticed that not only your agency, but the majority of the agencies they use this waiver on advertisement to cause this employment racketeering.

“For me I think it is deliberate. So I want to ask your commission, why refusing to comply with the set up rule to advertise recruitment in respect for the right of applicants. This will promote maximum participation and provision of a wider scope for the selection of the best.”

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