Oil and gas companies operating in Nigeria has defrauded the country of $19.1 billion (N3.82 trillion) in the last couple of months through underpayments, under-assessment of taxes, royalties and rents among others
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Jun 22, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT |
THE Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, on Tuesday, June 9, indicted oil and gas companies operating in Nigeria of defrauding the country to the tune of $19.1 billion, about N3.82 trillion, over the last couple of months. The agency called on President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that the country recover the money from the companies.
NEITI, in a statement disclosed that the amount represents clear cases of underpayments, under-assessments of taxes, royalties, rents, among others. It stated that this was revealed in its several independent audit reports which have not been adequately addressed in the past.
Zainab Ahmed, executive secretary, NEITI, described the transfer of eight oil wells sold by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, in 2010 and 2011 as lacking in transparency and called for a full investigation into the transaction. She said: “The position of NEITI is that the whole transaction is not transparent. The Federal Government needs to carry out a full investigation into the sale to ascertain the actual cost of the oil blocks and revenue loss to the Federation in the whole transaction.”
Giving a breakdown of some of the amount the country has lost to oil and gas operators, she noted that $11.6 billion, about N2.32 trillion, which represents outstanding total dividends arising from loans and interest repayments from federal government’s investment in Liquefied Natural Gas, LNG, also needs to be recovered into government coffers.
She said: “Our 2012 Audit Report discovered that total dividend loans and interest repayment from LNG 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 LNG under the same circumstances which have not been remitted to the federation account stands at $11.6billion,” Ahmed said.
She explained that at a time when the new administration is in dire need of funds to tackle complex problems facing the nation, recovery of the funds should be pursued vigorously with all political will and seriousness it deserves. She assured that NEITI is willing and ready to provide every information and data to assist the government to recover the funds.
Ahmed advised the government to remove oil subsidy to save the nation from huge revenue loss and embarrassment that the management of the exercise has represented. “It has been the position of NEITI that the oil subsidy regime is a fraud 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.”
According to her, the new administration must muster the necessary political will required for implementation of the other findings and recommendations contained in NEITI’s independent reports, which she added are quite comprehensive and insightful to guide the government to reform the sector.