12 February 2014, Abuja – The federal government has directed oil companies operating in the country to submit all the necessary reports and data required by the Nigerian Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) to enable the agency carry out the 2012 independent audit of the oil and gas sector.
Speaking Tuesday at the closing ceremony of a workshop organised for companies and government agencies covered by the 2012 NEITI independent audit, Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, reiterated the federal government’s commitment to the implementation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) principles, describing it as an integral part of the planned reforms in the oil and gas industry.
She said: “My presence at this event testifies to the fact that the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, its departments, parastatals and agencies including the NNPC (Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation) and all its subsidiaries are in full support of the NEITI process and the enthronement of transparency and accountability in the oil and gas industry. We shall provide the required support to NEITI, apply its principles to our operations and support all efforts to uphold its independence, in pursuit of this principle. We will continue to work with NEITI to collectively deal with challenges in the process and in our operations.”
She added that it was in the interest of government, the ministry and the oil and gas industry for NEITI process to be internalised in the sector and seen as a leading partner in the proposed oil sector reforms.
“Let me at this juncture re-state that one of the cardinal reasons behind President Goodluck Jonathan administration’s strong support for the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is on the need to enshrine transparency, accountability as pillars of the reforms of the oil and gas industry,” she said.
The minister expressed delight that NEITI had made valuable contributions to the PIB.
While appreciating the importance of the workshop, she directed all companies in the oil and gas industry as well as government agencies under the ministry to take the exercise very seriously.
“Let me once again direct all companies in the oil and gas industry as well as relevant agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to comply and fully cooperate with the audit through timely provision of information and data required by NEITI. Compliance and cooperation with NEITI in this assignment is mandatory and compulsory,” she said.
She commended NEITI for the insightful revelations from its last audit that over $7.8 billion was outstanding recoverable funds in the hands of companies as a result of either underassessment or underpayments of taxes, royalties, levies, and signature bonuses, saying the recovery of these huge sums of money is critical to government.
“I hereby direct the NNPC, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and all other agencies important in efforts to recover these funds to work closely with NEITI for early recovery and remittances of these funds to the federation account,” she added.
NEITI Chairman, Mr. Ledum Mitee, welcomed what he described as the emerging working partnership based on defined roles between the ministry and NEITI in the implementation of EITI principles in Nigeria.
He requested the minister to provide institutional support for NEITI to fully implement the new EITI standards in the industry.
The new global standards, he added, requires full disclosure of beneficial ownership of oil and gas companies and contract transparency in transactions.
The NEITI 2012 industry audit of the sector covers disclosure of all companies’ payments reconciled against all government receipts, track financial flows in the industry.
Others were to identify discrepancies and map hydrocarbon flows within the period under review.
– Ejiofor Alike, This Day