- Senate Probes Kachikwu, DPR Over Oil Lease Renewal
The Senate has resolved to investigate Nigeria’s imminent loss of $10bn to illegal discounts and rebates granted by Federal Government officials in the process of oil and gas lease renewal.
Adopting a motion moved at the plenary on Wednesday titled: ‘Irregularities in the Ongoing Oil and Gas Lease Renewal and Massive Loss of Government Revenue’, the lawmakers fingered the Presidency; Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu; and the Department of Petroleum Resources for the alleged revenue loss.
The motion was moved by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), Senator Omotayo Alasoadura, and co-sponsored by Senators Baba Garbai, James Manager and Gershom Bassey.
The Senate unanimously resolved to mandate the Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) “to investigate all issues relating to the ongoing lease renewal being undertaken by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and the Department of Petroleum Resources, and to report to the Senate the anomalies in the ongoing lease renewal process and identify appropriate measures to correct the said anomalies.”
Seconding the motion, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim urged the lawmakers to extend the probe to the Presidency as the final approvals for the lease contracts were from there.
Ibrahim said, “The only observation I have on this motion is that for the fact that Mr President is the Minister of Petroleum Resources, maybe that is why this motion is not mentioning the Minister of Petroleum Resources. But we are aware that the minister of state ordinarily does not have the final approval for this type of case.
“There is a board of the NNPC, the ministry and it is out there – though it has yet to be substantiated – that the Chief of Staff to the President is a member of the board and is literally in charge of the board and the ministry.
“I will just want the prayer to expand those to be called in the investigation. It is in the rumour mill that the Chief of Staff is in charge of the NNPC and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, so that the minister cannot just come and say he is not the one in charge. In our law, there is no space for minister of state; so, a minister of state cannot give a final approval.”
Senator Shehu Sani said an investigation of the matter might lead the lawmakers into unravelling more irregularities in the petroleum sector.
Alasoadura pointed out that under the provision of extant laws, failure to pay royalties was a ground for revocation of leases and a legal barrier to renewal of applicable leases.
He said there was a subsisting legal framework and due process mandated by extant laws for the renewal of leases that were due for renewal.
The lawmaker added, “The Senate is concerned that the irregularities being perpetrated by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and the Department of Petroleum Resources in the ongoing lease renewal process is capable of denying government revenue in excess of $10bn as a result of illegal discounts and rebates in the process of lease renewal.
“The Senate is concerned that the Department of Petroleum Resources has wilfully and deliberately refused to provide the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) with relevant information and data related to the ongoing lease renewal.”
In his remarks, Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the session, called for a transparent probe, stating that the country’s major problems could be linked to enforcement and regulation.
According to him, the country has sufficient rules to guide Nigerians in almost all sectors.
Dangote Fertiliser Plant to Commence Shipment of Urea in March 2021
Dangote to Sells Petrol in Naira, Plans to Commence Urea Shipment in March 2021
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has said Dangote Fertiliser Plant will commence shipment of Urea in March 2021.
The CBN governor disclosed this during an inspection tour of the sites of Dangote Refinery, Petrochemicals Complex Fertiliser Plant and Subsea Gas Pipeline at Ibeju Lekki, Lagos on Saturday.
Emefiele further stated that Dangote Refinery would sell refined petroleum products in Naira when it starts production.
This he said would save the country from spending 41 percent of the nation’s foreign exchange on importation of petroleum products yearly.
“Based on agreement and discussions with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the oil companies, the Dangote Refinery can buy its crude in naira, refine it, and produce it for Nigerians’ use in naira,” Mr Emefiele said.
“That is the element where foreign exchange is saved for the country becomes very clear. We are also very optimistic that by refining this product here in Nigeria, all those costs associated with either demurrage from import, costs associated with freight will be totally eliminated.”
Emefiele explained that this will make the price of Nigeria’s petroleum products affordable and cheaper in naira.
“If we are lucky that what the refinery produces is more than we need locally you will see Nigerian businessmen buying small vessels to take them to our West African neighbours to sell to them in naira.
“This will increase our volume in naira and help to push it into the Economic Community of West African States as a currency,” Mr Emefiele said.
UK Budget 2021: Will Sunak’s Budget Run Into Unintended Consequences?
Rishi Sunak’s Budget will encourage higher earners to consider their “international financial options” and will drive businesses away from the UK, warns the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory and fintech organizations.
The warning from Nigel Green, chief executive and founder of deVere Group, comes as the Chancellor delivered his 2021 Budget in the House of Commons, his second since he took on the role.
Mr Green says: “The Chancellor has got an extraordinarily difficult hand to play as he tries to stem the economic damage caused by the pandemic, support jobs and businesses and, crucially, rebuild the public finances.
“Whilst Mr Sunak is being hailed a hero for the continued and unprecedented levels of support, it should also be remembered that he is – in a stealth move – dragging more people firmly into the tax net.
“He is raising taxes under the radar.
“Yes, there is no income tax rise. However, he is freezing personal tax thresholds, meaning as incomes rise and thresholds don’t, he is able to raise money by fiscal drag.”
Earlier this week, the deVere CEO noted: “Those most impacted by this stealth move will be looking at the financial planning options available to them, including international options, in order to grow and protect their wealth.”
Rishi Sunak also confirmed that corporation tax will increase to 25% from 2023, up from the current level of 19%.
Of this tax hike, Mr Green goes on to say: “Lower corporation tax helps job and wealth-creating business to survive and thrive. It also helps attract business to move and invest in the country.
“Instead of increasing taxes, Mr Sunak should have relentlessly focussed on growth and stimulus policies for businesses. This would have been of greater help to firms, the economy, jobs and, ultimately, the Treasury’s coffers.”
He adds: “Again, this corporation tax hike is likely to serve as a prompt for businesses to consider their overseas financial options.”
The deVere CEO concludes: “The Chancellor had to perform a tough juggling act. But stealthily dragging more people into the tax net and raising corporation tax might have negative, unintended consequences for the Treasury’s bottom line.”
Electricity Consumers Get 611,231 Meters Under MAP Scheme
Electricity Consumers Get 611,231 Meters Under MAP Scheme
A total of 611,231 meters have been deployed as at January 31, 2021 under the Meter Asset Provider initiative since its full operation despite the COVID-19 pandemic and other extraneous factors, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has said.
NERC disclosed this in a consultation paper on the review of the MAP Regulations.
The proposed review of the MAP scheme is coming nearly four months after the Federal Government launched a new initiative called National Mass Metering Programme aimed at distributing six million meters to consumers free of charge.
“The existence of a huge metering gap and the need to ensure successful implementation of the MYTO 2020 Service-Based Tariff resulted in the approval of the NMMP, a policy of the Federal Government anchored on the provision of long-term low interest financing to the Discos,” NERC said.
The commission had in March 2018 approved the MAP Regulations with the aim of fast-tracking the closure of the metering gap in the sector through the engagement of third-party investors (called meter asset providers) for the financing, procurement, supply, installation and maintenance of meters.
It set a target of providing meters to all customers within three years, and directed the Discos and the approved MAPs to commence the rollout of meters not later than May 1, 2019.
But in February 2020, NERC said several constraints, including changes in fiscal policy and the limited availability of long-term funding, had led to limited success in meter rollout.
NERC, in the consultation paper, highlighted three proposed options for metering implementation going forward.
The first option is to allow the implementation of both the NMMP and MAP metering frameworks to run concurrently; the second is to continue with the current MAP framework with meters procured under the NMMP supplied only through MAPs (by being off-takers from the local manufacturers/assemblers).
The third option is to wind down the MAP framework and allow the Discos to procure meters directly from local manufacturers/assemblers (or as procured by the World Bank), and enter into new contracts for the installation and maintenance of such meters.
“Customers who choose not to wait to receive meters based on the deployment schedule of the NMMP shall continue to have the option of making upfront payments for meters which will be installed within a maximum period of 10 working days,” NERC said.
The regulator said such customers would be refunded by the Discos through energy credits, adding that there would be no option for meter acquisition through the payment of a monthly meter service charge.
“Where meters have already been deployed under the meter service charge option, Discos shall make one-off repayment to affected customers and associated MAPs. Such meters shall be recognised in the rate base of the Discos,” it added.
NERC urged stakeholders to provide comments, objections, and representations on the proposed amendments within 21 days of the publication of the consultation paper.
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