PIB to be passed this year – National Assembly

Dakuku Peterside*PEF to pay marketers bridging cost within a week

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

04 February 2014, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The National Assembly has assured that the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, will be passed before the end of the year.

Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Downstream, Peterside Dakuku, who stated this on Tuesday during an oversight function visit to the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (Management) Board, PEF(M)B, in Abuja, explained that the bill has passed first and second reading in the House and is now with the ad hoc committee on PIB.

Dakuku called on agencies in the oil and gas sector to gear up for re-positioning on how fit into the new regime that PIB passage would midwife.

According to him, “Nigeria’s oil and gas sector is almost in transition to another phase, which is post-Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, phase. In the next one-year we expect to have a new legal framework govern by the PIB. Therefore, there is urgent need to reposition the PEF otherwise it will find it difficult to survive and perform its functions when the PIB takes effect.

“The need to reposition all the agencies of government in the oil and gas sector is imperative otherwise the country will suffer a new crisis of how to manage new ways of doing things as prescribed by the PIB. PEF must ensure its activities are dynamic and in sync with the aspirations of the Nigerian people as encapsulated in the PIB,” he stated.

Dakuku also debunked any perceived disagreement with the executive on the composition of the PIB, noting that Nigeria is “running a democracy where there are defined roles for the three arms of government. The PIB is an executive bill proposed by the executive arm of government. The bill is presently going through legislative process. The bill has gone through the first reading and second reading where lawmakers contributed to the general principle of the bill. The bill has been sent to the ad hoc committee on PIB and we are doing a lot of technical works on it.

“I do not know of any grey areas that have been disagreed on. I can assure Nigerians that irrespective of any grey areas, the National Assembly will pass a bill that will improve the quality of lives and guarantee a robust future for our hydrocarbon sector,” he stated.

Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary of Petroleum Equalization Fund (Management) Board, Mrs. Adefunke Kasali has indicated that the fund may begin to pay marketers one week after submission of their petroleum product bridging claims.

Kasali who disclosed this while receiving members of the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Downstream who were in PEF for oversight function, said presently marketers are paid within four weeks but the new Aquila Project has made it possible to shorten the period before payments are made.

According to her, “We are confident that one week payment of verified claims is achievable. By the time we roll out ‘Project Aquila 2’, which is intended to monitor movement of products from the depots to retail outlets which will enable us have the required information within a very short period of time, we should be able to make that happen. My job is to extend the charge to my staff to get ready to make that happen and I am sure within a short period of time we will achieve that feat.”

Speaking earlier, Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Downstream, Peterside Dakuku noted that prompt payment of marketers within a very short period would ensure continued availability of petrol in most parts of the country at the approved price.

“We are impressed with ‘Project Aquila’ by PEF and noticed that it has led to the reduction of infractions in the administration of equalization fund. The committee is convinced that Project Aquila has substantially addressed marketers trying to cut corners. Our concern as a committee is to ensure that products are sold at the same price across the country irrespective of closeness or farness from the Niger Delta or coastal areas,” he added.

Dakuku added that the one week payment period for marketers is achievable, “if we can move from inability to pay marketers for about one year or six months to four weeks, we are sure that the deployment of ‘Project Aquila 2’ can help ensure payment within one week. In all, we are looking for a system of payment that will further contribute to the robustness of the downstream sector where marketers will have complaints.”

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