Senate president, David Mark and House of Representatives Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal reassure Nigerians that the Petroleum Industry Bill is not dead
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Nov. 11, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
DESPITE the strong opposition by some ethnic groups and the international oil companies, IOCs, to the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, the National Assembly is now determined to pass it into law. The Senate on Tuesday, October 29, reiterated its commitment to the passage of the Bill.
David Mark, Senate President, while opening the Oil Trading and Logistics Africa Downstream Expo in Lagos, said the lawmakers’ commitment to the Bill was unalloyed, adding that the delay experienced so far in the Senate was caused by events beyond the control of the members.
In recognition of the importance of the Bill to the survival of the country’s oil and gas industry, and its implications for the economy, the Senate president said a timetable would be set for the Bill at the committee level up to its eventual passage. Mark, who was represented by Senator Magnus Abe, chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), said, “Our commitment to the passage of the PIB is unshakeable. While in the Senate, we have experienced delays with dealing with the Bill, it has been because of events outside the control of the lawmakers. We have now resorted to setting a timetable for dealing with the Bill at the committee level. We are also using this opportunity to invite more stakeholders who have one or more contributions to make to the Bill,” he said.
Speaking on the theme of the expo, ‘Competitiveness in the downstream oil sub sector,’ the Senate president said it was important for stakeholders to be concerned about increasing the capacity of Nigerian companies to compete internationally.
According to him, the Bill was conceived to repeal the Petroleum Act of 1969, and consolidate about 16 other petroleum industry laws into a transparent and coherent document. He added that the objectives was to establish a comprehensive legal and regulatory framework for good governance, transparency and accountability, with regard to operational and fiscal terms for revenue management, and removal of confidentiality clauses in licences, leases, and contracts in the nation’s petroleum industry.
Aminu Tambuwal, speaker, House of Representatives, said the House was also committed to the passage of the Bill because of its importance to the country’s economy. Rather than being traders, he urged downstream operators in the country to add value to the sector by refining Nigeria’s crude oil into various petroleum products. According to him, Singapore does not have a drop of oil but now exports, while Nigeria has become a net importer of refined petroleum products. He said there was no way the downstream operators could discuss competitiveness without focusing on increasing in-country refining capacity.
Tambuwal said the PIB was progressing as planned, recalling that the House had organised public hearings in the six geopolitical zones of the country. He gave an assurance that the Bill would be passed before the end of 2015. The PIB, when passed, is expected to reform the administrative, governance and fiscal regimes in the oil industry, give Nigerians a greater say and open up massive investment and employment opportunities, especially in the downstream sector.