Fuel subsidy regime a fraud, must go, feels the pains Nigerians are going through -Reps C’ttee

PMS: Domestic refining to supersede Local consumption in 2 Years – DPR

By Abiodun OBA

A comprehensive audit of the controversial Petrol, Subsidy regime in the country may be underway.

This is as the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) vowed at the inauguration of the Committee in Abuja on Friday, adding it feels the pains Nigerians are going through as a result of the subsidy removal.

The Chairman of the Committee, Hon Ikeagwuonu Ugochinyere, also said that the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) which had become a major concern to key stakeholders would be thoroughly reviewed.

While describing the fuel subsidy regime as a fraud which must go, he assured that the Committee would legislate for energy security, professionalism in the petroleum sector, economic transformation, accountability, institutional reforms and revenue recovery and generation, with a specific goal of helping the Federal Government to recover $20 billion revenue from the sector.

According to him “It is also very important that we make it known to Nigerians that we feel the pains that Nigerians are going through due to the removal of the subsidy regime. That regime had to go because it was corrupted and that is why the downstream committee of the House on Petroleum Resources would do a comprehensive audit of the PMS subsidy regime.

“We would probe the beneficiaries of the payment, rendering accounts on all loan transactions, the pre-export financing arrangement and other loan arrangements. Also, other loan arrangements in exchange for crude would be extensively reviewed and investigated.

“The Direct Sales, Direct Purchase, using the crude to bring in the PMS and other value chains associated with them will also be reviewed.

“This committee would be working closely with our brother committees in the upstream, mainstream, gas, petroleum training fund and other petroleum-related committee to also help us achieve our set objectives.

“The implementation of the PIA which has become a major concern to key stakeholders would be reviewed by this committee.

“What was done before the PIA? What they are doing after the PIA? The assets that used to be national assets before the coming into effect of the PIA. Where are they? Who is with them?

“All these the committee would look into all to ensure that the intention of the PIA is achieved. One of those intentions is to ensure that there is energy security and competition in the downstream Sector.

“But if you come now, you will see that NNPCL is the main importer of PMS. That is not the main intention of the PIA. The PIA had envisaged a situation where numerous downstream operators would have been involved in the importation of PMS. That we would also look into.

“We intend to use our legislative powers to help solve our nation’s energy problem, create healthy competition in the industry as envisaged by the PIA, create job opportunities and stabilise the Forex market because if today the downstream sector is functioning very effectively would be no need for us to be running looking for Forex to PMS, which is now creating instability in our Forex market.

“Another issue of concern recent, is that we have started getting reports that most of the modular refineries are ready for operation and there are challenges of domestic crude supply.

“The PIA made provisions for domestic crude supply to those modular and all our local refineries, it has a constitutional provision. It is a law. Today we are receiving messages that most of these modular refineries, even the general refineries like Dangote and so on may not be able to get the required domestic supply they would need.

“This, they said, is caused by most of these pre-financing and loans for PMS and crude swap and so on and so forth.

“This committee is going to look into it to ensure that there is adequate domestic crude supply to the domestic refineries to ensure that we achieve energy security.

“Let me also inform you that as you are already aware, the House has received in plenary the NEITI report that have far reaching recommendations both in the downstream, upstream and midstream sector, especially the issue of over $8.5 billion unremitted royalties and other oil revenues and the discrepancies that have to do with the quantity of PMS imported by the NNPCL and what is in the record of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA).

“The House has set up a joint committee that involves the committees in downstream, upstream and midstream to look into the issue.

“In the coming weeks we would start looking into all these issues to resolve them. Posterity would always judge our actions and inactions. So we must do the needful today.”

Ugochinyere expressed confidence in the calibre of membership of the Committee to deliver on its mandate.

According to him, “Let me also urge the various stakeholders in the petroleum sector to cooperate with our committee in the discharge of our functions and be open to positive changes where necessary.

“We are not going to victimise anybody, we won’t witch-haunt any one, but we will certainly do our work with a deep sense of service to the nation.

“We thank the leadership of the 10th House of Representatives (the People’s Parliament) ably led by Rt. Hon. Tajudeen Abass, and Rt. Hon. Benjamin Kalu for giving us the opportunity to contribute our quota to national development, by appointing us to serve in this all-important Committee”.

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