N2.6tr: NEITI shifts report on 77 firms’ status to Q1

NEITI

Nigerians are to wait till the first quarter of next year to ascertain the payment of the outstanding N2.6 trillion by 77 oil and gas companies, Akelicious has learnt.

The Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has again postponed the presentation of its 2020 oil and gas audit report, which will reveal the true position of the payment.

Akelicious had reported that the watchdog organisation deferred the publication earlier scheduled presentation in November.

On November 12, when asked whether NEITI would still unveil the audit report that month, NEITI’s Executive Secretary Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji told our reporter that the presentation had been postponed to this month.

Responding to a text message in Abuja yesterday, the NEITI boss said the presentation has now been shifted to the Q1 2022 due to the review of the content and scope of the report to capture emerging issues and matters emanating from the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).

Orji said: “As a result of reviews in scope and content to enable NEITI respond adequately to unfolding EITI emerging issues, matters arising from the post petroleum industry act, the 2020 oil and gas report will be ready within the first quarter of next year.”

He disclosed that NEITI will also commence the 2021 oil and gas industry audit next year and that of the mining industry.

”The conduct of 2021 industry reports, oil/gas   and mining will also commence next year,” he said.

On November 12, when Orji was asked to state how much the 77 companies had paid, he said: “The ongoing NEITI 2020 oil/gas independent industry audit to be released early next month will confirm the current status. I am in no position to speculate at this moment.”

In September, Orji told reporters: “Now, the 2020 audit report will validate if these payments have been made by the companies. Our audit reports are published annually. Plans are on to release the 2020 report by November this year.”

At the press conference, he urged the Federal Government to prevail on the 77 firms to remit their outstanding dues of Value Added Tax (VAT), Withholding Income Tax (WIT), Education Tax and the others to the government.

According to him, the money was enough for debt service in the 2021 budget.

Few days after the press conference, President Muhammadu Buhari gave a coalition of anti-graft agencies, including NEITI, Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), the Independence Corrupt Practices and Other Crimes Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the nod to recover about N2.65 trillion unremitted funds from the 77 firs in the oil and gas sector.

The NFIU Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mr Modibbo Tukur, who broke the news when he visited the NEITI secretariat to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two government organisations, said it was unacceptable that government would be owed such huge funds at a time it was borrowing to fund major projects.

He said the President had mandated Finance, Budget and National Planning Minister Mrs. Zainab Ahmed to oversee the process, including the setting up of a panel of the anti-corruption agencies to recover the unremitted monies.

He said: Mr. President has approved officially all the recoveries to be done in this area. The minister of finance has been directed to set up a recovery panel with the EFCC, NEITI and NFIU in it and even NAPIMS and all the others.

“So, we are heading to maximum transparency. And there will be consolidation of data coming from NEITI, from NFIU and other agencies and there will be very clear reconciliation with the players and those regulating the sector. So, no more hiding of our national revenues. We all know what we are going through. Nobody wants to see the government borrow.”

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