17 August 2013, Lagos – The Lagos chapter of the Nigeria Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, NACCIMA. has urged the National Assembly to urgently pass the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, in order to kick-start the reforms in the oil and gas sector of the Nigerian economy.
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce which is an umbrella group for Nigerian businesses, said the legislation holds the key to solving corruption and other forms of fiscal problems in Africa’s biggest oil producer.
The PIB seeking to radically overhaul Nigeria’s oil and gas industry, from fiscal terms to restructuring of the state-owned Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), has been stuck in the parliament for more than five years because of disputes between the government and foreign oil firms.
Meanwhile, UK-based country risk monitor, Business Monitor International, BMI, has projected that the PIB could be passed by the first quarter of 2014. “Adoption of the Petroleum Industry Bill, which we expect around Q4 13-Q1 14, would be a strong signal for investors that Nigeria’s hydrocarbon sector is ready to move forward,” BMI said in its latest report on the Nigerian oil industry.
The lawmakers however held a public debate on the PIB in July, which threw up sharp disagreements among legislators in two key areas, namely a special fund for communities hosting oil fields and facilities, and extra powers granted to the oil minister.
The chamber which is one of Nigeria’s most influential economic pressure groups with membership drawn from all sectors of the economy, including foreign oil companies operating in Nigeria, such as Shell and ExonMobil, also expressed concerns over the dwindling fortunes of Nigeria’s oil sector due to “structural gaps in its regulatory, fiscal and business practices which have supported high [levels of] inefficiencies.”
The group said in a statement issued on Monday that enacting a competitive, inward looking Petroleum Sector Act, the PIB by the Federal Government of Nigeria is germane to curbing corruption and other forms of fiscal leakages in the oil and gas industry.
“While we note that the passage and implementation of the PIB will not entirely eliminate the problem, it would expand investment, curbing corruption and other forms of fiscal leakages, further stabilizing the economy,” the statement added
The statement also noted the oil executives have equally observed that continued delay in the passage of the bill has brought uncertainty to businesses and has held up billions of dollars of investments in exploration and production.