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$3 billion unremitted funds recovered from companies in 20 years – NEITI

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THE Nigerian Extractive International Transparency Initiative (NEITI) on Thursday said a total of $3 billion has been recovered from underpayments from companies in the extractive sector to government in the past 20 years, from ‪1999 to 2019‬.
Executive Secretary of NEITI Orji Ogbonnaya Orji disclosed this on Thursday in Abuja during the inaugural meeting of the Communications and Civil Society Committee and presentation of the 2019 Oil, Gas and Mining reports.
Orji said the agency would intensify efforts to ensure Nigeria’s resources works for Nigerians, adding that NEITI was building partnerships with relevant government agencies to ensure efficiency in the transparency sector.
“Ours is to ensure effective remittance of government’s fund, that’s why we are in partnership with the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and others to deepen our operations.
Orji at the ceremony lauded the efforts of the civil society as dependable allies to NEITI in discharging its statutory mandate.
“I must therefore acknowledge and commend all of you for being the agency’s vanguard and partners since our country signed up to the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative about two decades ago.”
He said the creation of the committee by the NEITI board was based on its conviction that the civil society and media are integral part of the process.
Orji stressed that such roles are visible in dissemination of NEITI reports and advocacy on the findings and recommendations of the reports and other policy products.
The Executive Secretary had in September during a mid-term review of the activities of NEITI with journalists revealed that 77 international and Nigerian oil and gas companies currently owe the Nigerian government $6.48 billion (over N2.6 trillion).
He said the debts were a result of the companies’ failure to remit petroleum profit tax, company income tax, education tax, value-added tax, withholding tax, royalty and concession on rentals.
He did not provide the names of the companies.
Analysts say if the relevant government agencies collaborate effectively with NEITI to recover these outstanding debts, Nigeria would have enough funds for its capital projects and could slow down on borrowings.
The Executive Secretary of Equity Advocates Ene Ede, who is one of the inaugurated members told THE ICIR that NEITI’s mandate is key in lifting millions of Nigerians out of poverty.
She said, “Because we have someone at the helm who understands the process, it is easier for him to lead from the front and for me it is efficiency is key and quality of people that had been there with the crop of people in the committee, I assure you we will not let Nigerians down.
“We must get the process in NEITI right because it is the super structure upon which anti-corruption mandate is built and Nigerians whom we serve would be better off for it.”
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