GIFT Nigeria calls for speedy amendment of FRA bill

THE Growth Initiative for Fiscal Transparency (Gift Nigeria) has called for the immediate passage of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) amendment bill.

The group’s Executive Director, Order Paper, Oke Epia, said on Friday, August 12, 2022 at a media briefing in Abuja that the financial crisis facing Nigeria arose from corruption in the oil sector, which he said could be resolved through the amendment of the FRA.

Epia said, “Nigeria is in a fiscal crisis because certain things are not being done right, especially in the petroleum sector, which accounts for over 60 per cent of revenue earnings and over 90 per cent of foreign exchange due to the country.

“It is the mainstay of the economy, and that is where you have the poster child of corruption in this country.”

He noted that the slow amendment of the FRA had given room for non-remittance of revenue by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) and other ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government.

“What is going in with that bill? Why is it still stuck at the senate?

“On the side of public finance management, that is what we want to alert your consciousness to so that we can mount pressure on the National Assembly to pass this Fiscal Responsibility Amendment bill, so it will help get monies that are due to government paid to government without much ado,” he said.

Saying that Nigeria was losing about N2 trillion to non-remittances by MDAs, he added that there were gaps within the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) that encourage it, which he advised should be fixed.

“We took a deep dive into the Petroleum Industry Act and we were able to come up with gaps and inadequacies with respect to transparency and accountability in public finance management that should come from that sector.

“There are sections in the PIA that we must pay attention to, like section 25 that ousts virtually every other actor, state and non-state from intervening in the sector until you get permission form the Nigeria Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority and the Nigeria Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority,” he said.

The GIFT Executive Director posited that though some parts of the PIA might seem convenient for now, they did not provide room for revenue remittances.

Epia also noted that a key problem of the oil sector was that of opacity and lack of accountability.

“The problem is that we do not have an accountable system in place that determines what we are consuming in terms of petrol. Who determines that consumption figure? Who plays oversight over those that determine that figure?

“So there is a lot of opacity and inadequate transparency in the energy value-chain, which we are calling attention to,” he said.

At the event was the Executive Director, Hip City Innovation Centre, Bassey Bassey, who also decried non-remittance of revenue by the NNPC.

Bassey urged Nigerians to equip themselves with facts on revenue generation in the oil sector to enable them make informed decisions in the forthcoming general elections.

    He said, “We’ve seen the level of reluctance in remitting. We are trying to ensure that citizens are armed with facts and figures. It would be critical as we move into the electioneering period that people have these facts to engage the political actors as to what would be done differently.”

    The General Manager, Mega FM, Ejiro Umukoro, spoke at the event on funding for host communities within the Niger-Delta.

    Umukoro said, “This is also a marking point for host communities with regards to the PIA. By the 16th of this month, it will be one year since the PIA was passed, and the question on the top burner is: have the licensees complied with the development of the communities in ensuring that what is due to them is done?”

    She urged host communities to get involved in tracking and monitoring the processes using tools, including the RemTrack provided by Order Paper.

    Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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