June 21, 2024

NEITI vows to recover FG’s unremitted $6.4bn levies from defaulting oil firms 

Solomon Ezeme

Oil and gas companies in Nigeria who have failed to remit outstanding taxes, royalties and levies to the Federation Account to the tune of about $6.4 billion will face appropriate actions from anti corruption agencies. This was according to the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) as it pledged to “recover the funds”.

EnergyDay recalls that, in March 2022, the House of Representatives flagged-off investigative hearings into over $6.479 billion debts owed the Federal Government by oil and gas companies operating in the country, following a report by NEITI on their debt status.

NEITI made this known during an event held in Abuja to mark 2022 African Day of Anti-Corruption with the theme: “Strategies and Mechanisms for the Transparent Management of Covid-19 Funds” on Thursday.

Speaking during the event, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, the Executive Secretary, NEITI (represented by NEITI’s Director of Technical, Dr. Dieter Bassi), threatened that the agency won’t hesitate to involve anti corruption agencies against the defaulting oil companies, to recover the $6.4 billion debt.

He warned the oil companies not to take the threat for granted as NEITI is not going to look back on its decision to take actions against defaulters.

He further called for honesty on the part of public servants to ensure that sharp practices are discouraged for effective utilization of public resources.

The NEITI boss also called for proper record keeping and dissemination of genuine data to help detect and weed out corrupt officials.

“We need fiscal transparency to ensure that public funds are used for the purpose for which they are meant.

“We need ownership transparency to ensure that those entrusted with public resources do not themselves become the principal beneficiaries of these resources.

“We also need ownership transparency to ensure that when public resources are stolen, we are able to track and recover them”, he stated.

EnergyDay’s check showed that, in September 2021, NEITI declared its intention to recover a total debt of N2.659trn from 77 oil and gas firms operating in Nigeria, in its bid to improve the Nigeria power sector and execute other important national projects, with the recovered fund.

NEITI, later in November, 2021, said, during its presentation of the 2019 Oil, Gas and Mining reports, that it successfully recovered an estimated $3 billion from companies in both the oil & gas and mining sectors, representing underpayments by the companies into the Federation Account between 1999 and 2019 (a period of 20 years).