The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI has disclosed that it would reveal owners of Nigeria’s crude oil blocks by January 2020. The disclosure also coincided with President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval for the 2019 operations budget of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
NEITI also clarified that the $20 billion oil and gas tax backlog said to be owed the federal government and the states by the International Oil Companies (IOCs) accrued from the non-review of expired terms in the 1993 Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs) the country signed with the IOCs.
According to the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Mr. Waziri Adio, the agency’s push for the implementation of the beneficial ownership practice in the sectors was on course. This Day reported that the Stolen Assets Recovery Initiative (STAR) of the World Bank and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), had described beneficial ownership as the natural person who ultimately owns or controls a customer or the natural person on whose behalf a transaction is being conducted.
The beneficial ownership guides are intended to help
public authorities or other interested parties looking to find information on
such entities incorporated under the laws of a country concerned.
STAR explained that the guides would provide basic information to assist what steps to take to ascertain the identity of beneficial owners and other related parties.
Adio further clarified that NEITI planned to meet a January 1, 2020 deadline on it, after which the agency would make public the register of everyone holding oil blocks’ licences and solid minerals rights in Nigeria.
He said “Everybody is talking about beneficial ownership now. If you are aware of the Paradise and Panama Papers, people hide behind anonymous companies to perpetrate all kinds of things, deny countries of revenues, do money laundry, commit crimes, including serious crimes like terrorism, drug financing and all others. This is an existential issue for most countries especially countries like our own where we need all the monies that we can get.
He also talked about the recent claims that IOCs owed the country over $20 billion in tax debts saying that the debt was perhaps from the 1993 Production Sharing Contracts, PSCs that the government failed to review and update expiry terms. On the EITI’s latest ranking of Nigeria, Adio stated that only seven countries including Nigeria, have achieved the highest status, and that the recognition meant well for Nigeria.
On the other hand, President Buhari approved the 2019 operations budget of the NNPC. This was made known by the Group Managing Director of the corporation, Dr. Maikanti Baru. Though, Baru did not give the financial details of the corporation’s budget for 2019, he, however, stated that Buhari was gracious to approve it early enough.
He was, however, silent on whether or not the corporation would submit the budget to the National Assembly for legislation in line with the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007, which provides that federal revenue generating agencies must submit their budgets to the National Assembly even when some of their boards have powers to approve same.