Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke
By Ahamefula Ogbu
The National Economic Council (NEC) meeting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan Thursday set up a committee to work out a reliable system of tracking the nation’s crude oil exports as well as refined imports and establish accurate data on them.
NEC also confirmed that Jonathan would re-present the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) to the National Assembly after the finer details aimed at a quick passage have been worked out through a roadmap to be presented by the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke.
Briefing the media after the meeting, Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State, who was flanked by Minister, National Planning Commission, Dr. Shamsuddeen Usman, Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State Dave Umahi and Deputy Governor of Benue State, Mr. Steve Lawani, said following a presentation by the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on subsidy oil financing, they agreed on the need for accurate data on crude export and product import.
Those to work with Okonjo-Iweala are Alison-Madueke, the Accountant General of the Federation, the Central Bank Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as well as some state governors yet to be named.
They are to assess the situation and come up with a recommendation on how to establish a reliable system for accurate data generation on the nation’s oil imports and exports.
As a way of stopping the bleeding of the nation’s economy through illegal oil bunkering said to occasion loss of over a billion dollars monthly, NEC moved for stiffer penalties through the strengthening of laws against illegal bunkering, while states were encouraged to promulgate laws that would protect the environment since issues of oil is on the exclusive list.
“The Council noted the need for the strengthening of the laws against oil bunkering to save the nation from the concomitant massive revenue loss which has been put at over $1 billion monthly resulting in environmental pollution. It also urged the states to establish laws towards severely punishing those responsible for the damage to the environment arising from oil bunkering and other criminal activities. At the same time, we are calling on FG to send a Bill to National Assembly that will bring very stringent action against bunkerers. It is important to bring the issue of bunkering to an end and that can only be done if a proper law is passed by the National Assembly that criminalises oil bunkering so that people could be deterred from going into it,” Akpabio said.
They said following the advice of the court that the litigation the governors initiated over the excess crude account to be settled out of court, they mandated Okonjo-Iweala and the Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, Shamsudeen and CBN Governor Sanusi to sit with four state governors to work out procedures for the out of court settlement.
They also dwelt on the new tax system that the president launched, saying it was a new regime that would ensure that political office holders, the president, vice-president, governors and their deputies would be taxed, while adequate database would be built to ensure smooth working of the scheme.
On how to access funds by states for the attainment of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), they said there would be a new system of distribution which leaves states with 60 per cent on equality basis as against the system of applying and qualifying for it while the Federal Government would keep 40 per cent.
Also briefing journalists after the launch by the president, Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Ifueko Omoigui Okauru, said the new system would increase revenue substantially, while those who earn more would be made to pay more as against the present practice where big earners pay less.