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Economy & Politics

PIB: Bill on final journey to Senate, House of Reps for consideration – Lawan

The bill is expected to be signed before the end of May.

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Senate president warns about dangers of youth unemployment, National Assembly to ensure youth empowerment schemes are realized - Lawan

The Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, has assured Nigerians that the Petroleum Industry Bill will soon be on its way to both the Senate and House of Representatives chambers. He also expects the bill to be signed before the end of May.

Lawan disclosed this on Tuesday, in a meeting with UK Minister for Africa, James Duddridge, and the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, in Abuja.

READ: IOCs reject deep water provisions in PIB

What the Senate President is saying about the PIB

“The National Assembly is working tirelessly to ensure that we pass the PIB which is a very important piece of legislation for our country.

This time around, we have devised different means and ways of ensuring that it is not only passed by the parliament but it is assented to by the President.

Our belief is that we have long been working together with the executive arm of government to ensure that we don’t leave any gaps that will engender unnecessary controversy between us on the bill, and so far it has been paying off.

READ: House of Reps Speaker assures that the PIB will be passed in April 2021

The bill is on its final journey into the Senate and the House of Representatives chambers for consideration.

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We are expecting that by the first week of May, we will be able to receive the report of our committee on the PIB. Our design and desire is that we are able to pass the bill before the end of May,” he said.

Lawan added that the PIB would change the economic fortune of Nigeria, as it would make a huge difference in earnings from Nigerian petroleum resources.

“But we also believe that this is one piece of legislation that will give significant or sufficient incentives to the oil companies, especially the International Oil Companies (IOCs) doing business in Nigeria,” he said.

READ: Nigeria may never harness full development potentials in the Oil & Gas industry – Dr. Babajide Agunbiade

What you should know about the PIB

Nairametrics reported earlier this month that the Nigerian government had added some changes to the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which included the reduction of hydrocarbon tax to 30% for converted leases, down from 42.5% in its original bill plan, in a bid to attract more investors to Nigeria’s oil and gas sector.

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Economy & Politics

SERAP asks Buhari to probe N39.5 billion duplicated, mysterious projects

SERAP has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to probe the reported N39.5 billion duplicated and mysterious projects inserted in the 2021 budget.

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See what FSDH is saying about the 2020 budget and FG’s revenue drive , 2020 budget

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to probe the reported N39.5 billion duplicated and mysterious projects inserted in the 2021 budget.

This is to know if public funds have been diverted in the guise of implementing the projects and prosecute those allegedly involved including those from the executive and the National Assembly.

The request from SERAP follows a report from BudgiT last week, where they alleged that there are 316 duplicated capital projects worth N139.5 billion in the 2021 budget.

This disclosure is contained in a public statement issued by SERAP on Sunday, May 9, 2021, and can be seen on its website.

SERAP said that the investigation of the alleged duplicated and mysterious projects, which are part of the 2021 appropriation bill of N13.588 trillion, should establish whether public funds have been mismanaged, diverted or stolen in the guise of implementing these projects.

What SERAP is saying in its letter

In the letter dated 8th May 2021 and signed by SERAP, Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare said: “The misallocation of public funds for duplicated and mysterious projects has seriously undermined the ability of the indicted MDAs, and the government to ensure respect for Nigerians’ human rights through developing and implementing well-thought-out policies, plans, and budgets.”

The letter from SERAP partly reads, “BudgIT had in a report last week stated that there are 316 duplicated capital projects worth N39.5 billion in the 2021 budget. The duplicated and mysterious projects are contained in the 2021 appropriation bill of N13.588 trillion signed into law in December 2020.”

These damning revelations suggest a grave violation of the public trust, and Nigerians’ rights to education, health, water, sanitation, and clean and satisfactory environment because the indicted MDAs have misallocated public funds at the expense of the people’s access to basic public services, and enjoyment of rights.”

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SERAP urges you to ask the heads of the MDAs involved to explain why they allegedly failed to ensure strict compliance with constitutional and international standards of transparency and accountability in the preparation, processes and decisions on their budgets, and to return any misallocated public funds to the public treasury.”

Investigating and prosecuting any allegations of mismanagement, diversion and stealing of public funds budgeted for the 316 duplicated and mysterious projects would allow your government to use the budget to effectively promote Nigerians’ access to essential public goods and services.

Publishing the ‘implementation status’ of the duplicated and mysterious projects would allow Nigerians to hold their government to account in the spending of public funds. This is particularly true for marginalized and excluded groups, such as people living in poverty, women, children, and persons with disabilities, as the budget has a disproportionate impact on their welfare.”

We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Incorporated Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.” 

SERAP also urges you to direct Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning to publish full details of current ‘implementation status’ of the duplicated and mysterious projects, and any spending on the projects to date, including the 115 projects inserted in the budget of the Ministry of Health; the 23 projects inserted in the budget of the Ministry of Education, and 10 projects inserted in the budget of the Ministry of Water Resources.

The following ministries are reportedly involved in the duplicated and mysterious projects: Ministry of Health with 115 projects; Ministry of Information and Culture with 40 projects; Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development with 25 projects; Ministry of Education with 23 projects; Ministry of Transportation with 17 projects; and Ministry of Science and Technology with 17 projects.”

Others are the Ministry of Environment with 13 projects; Ministry of Power with 11 projects; Ministry of Labour and Employment with 11 projects, and Ministry of Water Resources with 10 projects.”

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The letter was copied to Mr Malami; Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, Chairman Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC); Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa, Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC); and Mrs Ahmed, the Finance Minister.

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Economy & Politics

FG probes NPA over N165 billion unremitted surplus, suspended MD responds

The FG will on Monday, commence the probe of the suspended MD of NPA over alleged non-remittance of over N165 billion operating surplus to the CRF.

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NPA discovers new method Apapa businessmen use to avoid port duties

The Federal Government, on Monday, is set to commence the probe of the suspended Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman, over alleged non-remittance of over N165 billion operating surplus to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) by the NPA management under her leadership.

This is as some reports suggest that the administrative probe panel, headed by the Director of Maritime at the Federal Ministry of Transportation, may also expand the scope of its probe in accordance with the presidential approval to audit the accounts of NPA.

According to the Punch, documents sighted showed that the government discovered some discrepancies in the remittance of operating surpluses by the NPA to the Consolidated Revenue Fund for 2 consecutive years under the leadership of Bala-Usman.

The findings from the report indicated that a total of about N73.61 billion (N56.3 billion in 2017 and N17.31 billion in 2018), which was generated within the 2-year period was not remitted to the CRF as expected by the government, although the suspended NPA boss provided explanations to the contrary.

Also, the Federal Ministry of Transportation in a May 4, 2021 letter to the President claimed that the NPA failed to remit N165.32 billion to the CRF from 2016 to 2020 and called for an investigation and audit of the financial accounts of the authority.

The suspended NPA Managing Director responds to audit probe

In a letter, with reference to MD/17/MF/VOL-XX/541, dated May 5, 2021, and addressed to the Chief of Staff to the President, Bala-Usman said the NPA was aware of Buhari’s approval for the Federal Ministry of Transportation to conduct an audit of the accounts of the NPA and its remittances to the CRF.

The letter was entitled, “Re: Request for the record of remittance of operating surplus to the Consolidated Revenue Funds account by the Nigerian Ports Authority.”

In the letter, she explained that the audited financial statements of the NPA provided operating surpluses in 2017 and 2018 that were contrary to what was arrived at by the Office of the Chief of Staff to the President.

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The letter stated that the presidential approval for the audit of the NPA accounts arose from a correspondence between the Budget Office of the Federation and the Federal Ministry of Transportation in which the budget office observed a shortfall of the authority’s remittances to the CFR.

The letter read in part, “Audited financial statements of the authority for the period 2017 and 2018 provides operating surpluses of N76.782 billion and N71.480 billion for 2017 and 2018 respectively as contrary to the sums of N133.084 billion and N88.79 billion arrived at by your office from the budgetary submission.”

“We wish to state that the authority’s basis for arriving at the operating surplus on which basis the amount due for remittance to the CFR is guided by the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 as amended.

It is further based on the statutory mandate Part 1, S.3(1) (b) &(d) whereby the FRC issued a template for the computation of operating surplus for the purpose of calculating amount due for remittance to the CRF.

 Accordingly, the figures so provided by the Budget Office of the Federation as the operating surplus for the respective years on which basis they arrived at the shortfall are derived from submission of budgetary provision not the actual amounts derived following the statutory audit of the authority’s financial statements.”

She argued that in line with the template issued by the Fiscal Responsibility Commission, the accessible operating surplus of the authority stood at N51.09 billion and N42.51 billion for 2017 and 2018 respectively.

“This amount will give rise to a remittance due to the CFR in the sum of N40.873 billion and N34.065 billion representing 80 percent of the surpluses for the year 2017 and 2018 respectively.

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Accordingly, the authority consequently made a remittance of N42.415 billion and N33.969 billion for the years 2017 and 2018 respectively for the full amount required as remittance for the period.”

Bala-Usman also noted, “But thus far, the authority has made a remittance of N31.683 billion for the 2019 remittance. The sum of N51.049 billion has also thus far been remitted for 2020 while awaiting the audited financial statement to determine the final amount required for both 2019 and 2020 at which point the authority will make the payment of the balance as required.’’

She stated that based on the above, the authority wished to clarify that the computation of its remittances to the CFR was concluded from audited financial statements using the template forwarded to the authority from the Fiscal Responsibility Commission and not budgetary provision.

In case you missed it

Nairametrics had about 2 days ago reported the approval of an immediate suspension of the Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala-Usman, by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The suspension of Usman is to allow the panel of inquiry which is to be set up by the Federal Ministry of Transportation, to investigate the management of the agency to effectively carry out the task.

The Presidential approval which follows the recommendation of the Federal Ministry of Transportation, also approved Mr Mohammed Koko, Executive Director of Finance and Administration as the acting MD.

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