National Assembly Complex
The new draft Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) currently before the National Assembly is set to clash with the Act that established the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), THISDAY has learnt.
NEITI was created to, among other: eliminate all forms of corrupt practices in the determination, payments, receipts and posting of revenue accruing to the Federal Government from extractive industry companies.
Section 3 (F) of the enabling Act also empowers the agency to “monitor and ensure that all payments due to the Federal Government from all extractive industry companies, including taxes, royalties, dividends, bonuses, penalties, levies and duly made.”
But the new Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) vested these powers to the Upstream Petroleum Inspectorate, one of the regulators to be created by the reform bill.
Section 15 of the PIB saddles the Upstream Petroleum Inspectorate with the responsibility to compute, assess and ensure payment of royalties, rentals, fees and other charges for petroleum upstream operations as stipulated in the reform bill.
The PIB also empowers this upstream regulator to enforce the provisions of any enactments or regulations applicable to upstream petroleum operations made prior to the commencement of the PIB.
As an oversight body, NEITI was not given the powers to enforce compliance with its remediation and anti-corruption functions on either the regulatory agencies of the extractive industry companies.
The sanctions provided for in the NEITI Act cover only giving false information or report regarding a company’s volume of production, sales and income; delaying or refusing to give information or report; rendering false statement of account or failing to render a statement of account required under the NEITI Act, to the Federal Government.
It was also gathered that the PIB empowers the Upstream Petroleum Inspectorate to carry out its functions in a manner that conflicts with the provisions of the NEITI Act.
According to the PIB, the Inspectorate has the powers to modify, extend, suspend and revoke any licence or permit issued by it pursuant to the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act.
The PIB also empowers the Inspectorate to enforce licence, lease or permit conditions and the specific requirements of the Petroleum Industry Act.
Acknowledging areas of conflict between the two legislations, a former Chairman of the NEITI, Prof. Asisi Asobie, however said in Lagos at the weekend that two primary objectives of the NEITI were also reflected in two objectives of the PIB.
“Besides, in Section 4 of the PIB, there is a specific reference to the NEITI Act, to wit: In performing their functions and achieving their objectives under this Act, the agencies and companies established pursuant to this Act shall be bound by the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Act. In Section 190 of the PIB, it is stipulated that all bids received pertaining to petroleum prospecting licences or petroleum mining leases shall be monitored by NEITI,” he said.