The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has expressed its determination to recover N2.65 trillion from 77 oil and gas companies in Nigeria.
The debt arises from failure of the companies to remit petroleum profit tax, company income tax, education tax, value added tax, withholding tax, royalty and concession on rentals.
Executive Secretary of NEITI, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji stated this in Abuja on Tuesday while briefing journalists the media on the status of EITI implementation in Nigeria during the agencies mid-year briefing and presentation of its scorecard in the past seven months.
Dr. Orji explained that the total liabilities of the 77 companies covered by the NEITI process was at the agencies’ 2019 independent audit report of the oil and gas sector.
According to him, “The NEITI reports based on findings in its 2019 audit reports of the oil and gas sector show that oil and gas companies in Nigeria owe government about $6.48 billion which equals about N2.659 trillion at current’s exchange rate of N410.35.
“A breakdown of the figures shows that a total of $143.99million is owed as petroleum profit taxes, $1.089 billion as company income taxes and $201.69 million as education tax. Others include $18.46 million and £972,000 as Value Added Tax, $23.91million and £997,000 as Withholding Tax, $4.357 billion as royalty oil, $292.44Million as royalty gas, while $270.187 million and $41.86 million were unremitted gas flare penalties and concession rentals respectively”.
Dr. Orji stated that the disclosure is important and timely in view of the government’s current search for revenues to address citizens’ demand for steady power, access to good roads, quality education, fight insurgency and creation of job opportunities for the country’s teeming youths.
A comparative analysis of what this huge sum of N2.65trillion can contribute to economic development shows that it could have covered the entire capital budget of the federal government in 2020 or even used to service the federal government’s debt of $2.68billion in 2020.
Explaining further, he stated that “In 2021, if the money is recovered the 2.659 trillion could fund about 46% of Nigeria’s 2021 budget deficit of N5.6Trillion and is even higher than the entire projected oil revenue for 2021. This is why NEITI is set to work with the government to provide relevant information and data to support efforts at recovering this money.
“The disclosure of this information is in line with NEITI’s mandate to conduct audits, disseminate the findings to the public to enable the citizen’s especially the media and civil society to use the information and data to hold government, companies and even society to account. It is important that the process of recovering this humongous sum be set on course to support government in this period of dwindling revenues”.
He listed the modest achievements of the agency within the short period to include: re-constitution and inauguration of the NEITI Board; commencement of process of reviewing of NEITI Act to strengthen its powers and functions; timely publication and presentation of the reports; securing permanent office accommodation for the agency after 17 years of squatting on rent; sustained and diversified partnerships with key Stakeholders and partners.
Other achievements he listed are: the appointment of NEITI into the implementation of the PIA; commencement of the development of a 5-year NEITI Strategic Plan (2022-2026); NEITI Audit Automation Project; Nigeria’s involvement in Opening Extractives program; NEITI’s appointment to lead the global EITI Contract Transparency Network; Designing of a new, functional and Interactive website and reconstitution of the civil society and communication sub-committee among others.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, The Chairman of the Board, Mr. Olusegun Adekunle welcomed the achievements so far recorded and assured that a lot more needs to be done in the EITI implementation in Nigeria, especially under a new Petroleum Industry Act regime and a solid minerals sector that is begging for coordination, noting that the civil society and the media, being the third leg of the EITI tripod has critical roles to play in the Initiative.
“To effectively undertake this task of ensuring prudent management of extractive resources, there is need for effective oversight of the implementation of the EITI standard by all relevant frontline agencies of government and companies. NSWG looks up to you for you to effectively monitor these guidelines and to ensure that the standards are mainstreamed in the covered entities’ daily operations”, he said.