- NEITI Condemns N1.1trillion Tax Waivers to Oil Firms
By granting Pioneer Status, the Federal Government has waived $2.1 billion (N1.1 trillion) to 22 oil companies through tax holiday as at 2014.
These companies are operators in the marginal field segment of the Nigerian oil and gas industry, according to the latest report from the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).
Pioneer Status is a tax holiday incentive, designed by the Federal Government and backed by the law granted to targeted industries, products and services, designated as priority areas and growth drivers of the economy.
Some have argued that these are monies lost to government and to Nigerians in general, as these could have been ploughed back into the petroleum sector, particular the downstream infrastructure including refineries, depots, jetties, pipelines network and a host of others to improve products distribution in the country.
NEITI, the revenue watchdog, also shares this view in its 2014 Oil and Gas report, which regarded the tax waivers, as a loss of revenue to the federation, which it noted, would hamper development projects in the economy.
A copy of the report obtained by The Guardian stated that granting pioneer status to oil and gas companies has greatly undermined the optimal collection of revenue due from Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT).
The agency therefore, said that pioneer status should not be granted to any company in the oil and gas sector, unless it is evidently clear that the company is actually pioneering an aspect of the industry in the country.
It therefore, called for a “Regular review of the pioneer status to discover some of the companies granted tax waivers that had outgrown pioneer status.
“A coordinating desk should be established in the Ministry of Finance for all the agencies that process tax incentives while the final approval for tax waivers should be issued by the Minister of Finance,” it stated.
Speaking recently on the benefits of pioneer status, Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc’s Chief Executive, Austin Avuru, noted that the grant of pioneer status made it possible for the company to boost oil and gas production, provide employment opportunities, impact on their communities and help grow the Nigerian economy.
At the presentation of report by the Tax Justice and Governance Platform, tagged: “Pioneer Status in Oil and Gas Industry; Is It Worth It?,” discussants argued that the pioneer status given to oil and gas companies was not worth it, noting that as long as these companies are making profit, they will be adding little or nothing to the development of the nation.
The group urged the National Assembly to monitor the action of government agencies in granting tax incentive. “The FIRS should ensure that PS beneficiaries file tax returns annually with sanction imposed on defaulters. NIPC capacity in monitoring pioneer companies should be strengthened, while removing matured companies from the pioneer status list. Government should sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with marginal field operators on the establishment of guaranteed margins for the companies.”
Explaining the benefits of pioneer status to companies, the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC) said in a document on “Investing in Nigeria,” that the grant of Pioneer Status to an industry is aimed at enabling the industry concerned to make a reasonable level of profit within its formative years.
It noted that the profit so made is expected to be ploughed back into the business.
The Agency stated: “Pioneer status is a tax holiday granted to qualified or (eligible) industries anywhere in the Federation and five-year tax holiday in respect of industries located in economically disadvantaged local government area of the Federation. At the moment, there is a list of 71 approved industries declared pioneer industries, which can benefit from tax holiday.
“To qualify, a joint venture company or a wholly foreign-owned company must have a minimum share capital of N10 million and incurred a capital expenditure of not less than N5million, whilst that of qualified indigenous company should not be less than N150,000.00. In addition, an application in respect of Pioneer Status must be submitted within one year the applicant’s company starts commercial production otherwise the application will be time-barred.”
Nigeria’s Big Oil-Refining Revamp Gets Off To A Slow Start
A year after shutting down all of its dilapidated refineries to figure out how to fix them, Nigeria still can’t say how much it will cost to do the work or where the money will come from.
Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. said it has finished the appraisal of its largest facility, but hasn’t completed the process at two others. Refining experts said the extended halt means the plants are at risk of rotting away and unlikely to restart on time.
“Things haven’t been looking good lately,” with Nigeria’s plants probably “completely out of action for some 18 months,” said Elitsa Georgieva, Executive Director at Citac, a consultant that specializes in African refining.
The dysfunction of its domestic refineries has long put Africa’s biggest oil producer in an ironic situation. It exports large volumes of crude to plants overseas, then pays a premium to import the fuels its customers produce.
Pledges to fix the facilities have been made and broken again and again over the years. For at least a decade, NNPC’s 445,000 barrels a day of refining capacity barely processed 20% of that amount.
The latest effort to fix the refineries was supposed to be different to the failed attempts that came before. The company had totally shut all three plants down by January 2020 to do a comprehensive appraisal, and set the ambitious target of having them all back up and running at 90% of capacity by 2023.
“The refineries have been deliberately shut down to allow for a thorough diagnosis,” said Kennie Obateru, an Abuja-based NNPC spokesman. “They can be fixed based on what the diagnosis reveals.”
The appraisal of the 210,000-barrel-a day Port Harcourt refinery has been completed and NNPC has called for bids for the necessary repairs, Obateru said. The company hasn’t determined how much the work will cost.
“It is when we close the bids, everything is analyzed and presented that we will know how much we need,” he said.
The diagnosis is underway at the 125,000-barrel-a-day Warri facility and should be complete before the end of the year, he said. After that, the study of the 110,000-barrel-a-day Kaduna plant will commence.
One year into the process, refining analysts are skeptical that all this work can be done by 2023.
“I don’t think anyone has a good understanding technically of what’s wrong with those refineries,” said Alan Gelder, vice president of refining, chemicals and oil markets at Wood Mackenzie Ltd. “They’re probably corroding, which makes it a very difficult proposition.”
NNPC reaffirmed its deadline and said there’s no reason the refineries, which are at least 40 years old, can’t be restored to full operation.
“There are refineries that are over a hundred years old still running, so age is not necessarily an impediment,” Obateru said.
There are parallel efforts backed by private companies to add to Nigeria’s capacity. Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest person, is building a state-of-the-art 650,000 barrel-a-day refinery, which Citac estimates will start production in 2023.
Bringing NNPC’s Port Harcourt refinery to the same clean-fuel standards as Dangote’s modern plant would cost about $1.3 billion for the equipment, on top of whatever other repairs are required to get the facility running, Georgieva said.
NNPC is talking to oil-trading firms about $1 billion of prepayment deals that could finance the repairs at Port Harcourt, Reuters reported last week. Obateru declined to comment on the report, but said “I don’t envisage that we will have a problem getting people to invest.”
Food Inflation Hits Record High of 19.56 Percent in December 2020
Food Index, which measures prices of food items, grew by 19.56 percent in the month of December 2020 amid herdsmen attacks and flooding.
In the latest report from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), increases were recorded on Bread and cereals, Potatoes, Yam and other
tubers, Meat, Fruits, Vegetable, Fish and Oils and fats.
On month on monthly basis, the food sub-index rose by 2.05 percent in December 2020, 0.01 percent from 2.04 percent recorded in November 2020.
“The average annual rate of change of the Food sub-index for the twelve-month period ending December 2020 over the previous twelve-month average was 16.17 percent, 0.42 percent points from the average annual rate of change recorded in November 2020 (15.75) percent” the report stated.
Headline inflation number increased by 15.75 percent in the month of December 2020, up from 14.89 percent.
The report noted that increases were recorded in all COICOP divisions that yielded the Headline index.
On a month-on-month basis, “the urban index rose by 1.65 percent in December 2020, same as the rate recorded in November 2020, while the rural index also rose by 1.58 percent in December 2020, up by 0.02 percent above the rate that was recorded in November 2020 (1.56 percent).”
Nigeria’s Inflation Rate Rises to 15.75 Percent in December
Inflation rate in Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria, rose at the fastest pace in several months in the last month of 2020, according to the latest report from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures inflation rate, increased by 15.75 percent year-on-year in December 2020, representing a 0.86 percent increment from the 14.89 percent attained in November.
On a monthly basis, headline inflation rose by 1.61 percent in the month of December, representing 0.01 percent increase from the 1,60 percent posted in the month of November.
Food gauge that measures prices of items in Africa’s largest economy increased by 19.56 percent in December from 18.30 percent in November.
NBS attributed the increase to the surge in prices of Bread and cereals, Potatoes, Yam and other tubers, Meat, Fruits, Vegetable, Fish and Oils and fats.
On a monthly basis, the food sub-index grew by 2.05 percent in December 2020, an increase of 0.01 percent points from 2.04 percent recorded in November 2020.
The more stable annual rate showed Food sub-index over the last 12 months increased by 0.42 percent points from 15.75 percent in November to 16.17 percent in December.
Herdsmen attacks, the rising cost of fuel, flooding and the wide exchange rate are some of the key factors impacting the cost of food items in Nigeria, especially in December when demands were the highest.
Still lack of enough fiscal buffer to cushion the effect of COVID-19 and ease forex scarcity also drag on raw materials necessary for the production of some import-dependent items.
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