“NNPC Makes N250bn Profit”

The Group Executive Director, Finance and Accounts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mr. Isiaka Abdulrazak, said the corporation made a trading profit of N250bn in 2016.

Abdulrazak said this in a quarterly publication of the NNPC, a copy of which was obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday in Abuja.

According to him, his office inherited 65 unaudited financial statements between 2011 and 2014.

He said that though there were challenges that led to the backlog, a Project Steering Committee chaired by him was constituted to meet with auditors and all relevant stakeholders to identify and isolate key challenges and give them priority attention.

Giving an insight into how he was able to clear the corporation’s unaudited accounts from 2011 to 2016, Abdulrazak said this figure was up from a deficit of N123 billion in 2015.

“In August 2015, when the present management of the Finance and Accounts Directorate took over the mantle of leadership, we inherited a total of 65 unaudited financial statements for NNPC corporate and its subsidiaries covering 2011 to 2014.

“The major elements consist of a review of the Group Audited Financial Statements, particularly for 2016 reveals a positive shift to a trading profit of N250 billion from a trading deficit of N123 billion in 2015, indicating a 300 per cent improvement in trading performance.

“This is despite the decline in the average price of crude oil to as low as 345 dollars per barrel in 2016, compared to 51 dollars in 2015, and 110 dollars in 2014,’’ he said.

He said it was also critical to point out that the 2016 result was a reflection of management’s philosophy to enhance profitability by forcing down costs and improving revenue generation.

“For example, we have discontinued sub-commercial business arrangements such as offshore processing arrangements, disadvantaged crude for product exchange swap and poorly-managed strategic alliances.

“To improve revenues, there have been a number of new initiatives such as the introduction of Direct Sale Direct Purchase, a 20-25 per cent cut on all commercial contracts among others.

“Also, revenue analysis shows a 10 per cent increase from N2 trillion to N2.3 trillion between 2015 and 2016.

“Further analysis shows a 75 per cent increase in petroleum product sales from N820 billion to N1.4 trillion, attributable to the partial deregulation of petrol price,’’ he said.

According to him, the statement of financial position has been riddled with persistent losses over time and this had eroded shareholders’ equity.

“You will recall that I mentioned that the Group trading performance improved to N250 billion trading surplus in 2016 compared to a trading deficit of N123 billion in 2015.

“However, the Group ended with a net loss position mainly due to NPDC revenues shut-in as a result of the security situation in the Niger Delta in 2016, and exchange rate losses among others.

“The Group results would have been positive without these factors,’’ he said.

He said the directorate under his watch had recorded successes in areas like managing foreign exchange intervention pool for importation of petroleum products and savings on insurance premiums.

“This has so far led to more than 340 million dollars year-on-year savings in premiums payable over the period of 2015 to 2018 (about 45 per cent) effective reduction in year-on-year premiums.

“Other successes include reducing the unwieldy number of accounts managed by the corporation from more than 2,000 to a little fewer than 200. All the old accounts under commercial banks have been fully reconciled and closed.

“Another is the settlement of the cash call arrears and self-funding mechanism for joint venture operations, successfully negotiating an agreement 6.8 billion dollars to 5.1 billion dollars, a 25 per cent drop and the implementation of the self-funding mechanism for upstream joint venture operations for the federation.

“This has resulted in higher government take in royalties and taxes, sustained reserves development and production, restoring investors’ confidence, thereby creating windows for financing opportunities.’’

He said the outlook for the next strategic business period would be to focus on partnering with the corporate services directorate to optimise the utilisation of enterprise resource planning, infrastructure and architecture to provide an end to integration of NNPC business processes.

“Secondly, we are also focusing on delivering on the blueprint of making the corporation initial public offer ready.

“This will involve principally cleansing our legacy financial data and balance sheet restructuring as well as profitability.

“Thirdly, we shall continue to build on successes achieved with the open publication of monthly operations and financial reporting and rendition of audited financial statements in line with the provision of the NNPC Act and other relevant laws of the land.’’

He said in recognition of the achievement, the NNPC board had further mandated management to clear the remaining outstanding reports for the period 2013 to 2016.

(NAN)

Oil Prices Rise By Two Percent

Reports have revealed that oil prices rose more than two per cent on Monday.

Brent crude futures rose to settle at 68.65 dollars a barrel. Brent prices gained 2.3 per cent on the day, its largest daily percentage gain since March 21.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures gained to settle at 63.42 dollars , a 2.2 per cent gain, its largest daily percentage rise since March 23.

“Once again we find the oil market being swept up in broader market sentiment,” said Matt Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData.

“After Friday’s flight from risk, the positive mood in equities to start the week is encouraging a rebound in oil, with a weakening dollar providing a further shot in the arm.”

The U.S. stock market broadly rose more than one per cent as strength in technology shares and a softer stance by U.S. policymakers on China trade tariffs powered a rebound from last week’s selloff.

Crude futures have recently tracked with equities.

Market participants also focused on an air strike on a Syrian air base over the weekend.

Syria and Russia blamed Israel for carrying out an attack on a Syrian air base near Homs on Monday which followed reports of a poison gas attack by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces on a rebel-held town.

The Pentagon formally denied a Syrian state television report that the U.S. military had fired missiles at a Syrian government air base.

Concerns surrounding the implications of heightened conflict in Syria, whose main ally is Russia, drove oil prices higher, analysts said.

Prices have been supported so far this year by healthy demand and supply restraint led by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which started in 2017 to rein in oversupply and prop up prices.

In physical oil markets, OPEC’s No. 2 producer Iraq said on Monday that it will keep prices steady for its May crude supplies.

However, production from the prolific Permian basin may already be outpacing pipeline takeaway capacity and could prompt producers to slow down drilling.

 

Nigeria’s Foreign Reserves Hit $47 Billion

Nigeria’s foreign reserves have continued to grow significantly with latest figures by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) at about $47.37 billion as at April 5.

The new figures rose from about $46.2 billion realised at the end of March.

The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, announced the new balance in the reserves on Monday at the opening of the 25th seminar for Business Editors and financial Correspondents in Uyo.

Mr Emefiele, who was represented by the newly appointed deputy governor, Corporate Services, Edward Adamu, said the CBN hopes to meet the $50 billion target before the end of the year.

Nigeria’s latest foreign reserves is about $4 billion more than that of South Africa.

South Africa’s net foreign reserves rose to $43.384 billion in March from $43.272 billion in February, the Reserve Bank said on Monday.

Gross reserves fell to $49.979 billion from 50.051 billion dollars, the South African central bank data showed.

The forward position, which represents the central bank’s unsettled or swap transactions, fell to $1.996 billion from $2.057 billion.

“The decrease of 72 million dollars in the gross reserves reflects the foreign exchange payments made on behalf of the government.

“It was partially offset by the depreciation of the U.S. dollar against most currencies,” the South African central bank said.

Nigeria Pays Regular UN Dues For 2018

Nigeria has paid its regular UN dues for 2018, making it the 74th out of the 193 Member States of the global international organisation to fulfill its financial obligations.

The Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General Stephane Dujarric said in New York that Nigeria paid its annual dues in full saying;

“Nigeria has paid its regular budget dues in full, bringing the Honour Roll to 74”.

Checks by the Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria, in New York showed that Nigeria paid 5,080,178 dollars on April 5.

One hundred and nineteen members are yet to pay their regular budgets.

The records also reports that Nigeria became the 10th country in Africa to pay its UN regular budgets in full.

In 2016, Nigeria had asked the UN to review its assessed contributions to the organisation in view of the economic recession in the country at the time.

The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita, made the call at the UN Headquarters in New York when she visited the Chairman of the UN Fifth Committee, Kingston Rhodes.

The Fifth Committee is the committee of the General Assembly with responsibilities for administrative and budgetary matters.

Nigeria was expected to pay outstanding contributions of 10. 2 million dollars as at December 2016.

Ms. Oyo-Ita said: “Due to recession, we want something done to review our dues and we want the UN to reconsider our assessment due to the realities of the time.

“What Nigeria is being asked to pay now is on the high side. Nigeria is committed to paying its contributions but we want some considerations.

“We want something to be done to re-adjust our scale.”

Nigeria’s scale of assessment for 2013 to 2015 was 0.119 before the re-basing of the country’s economy in 2014.

However, with the re-basing of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to 500 million dollars, the scale of assessment of Nigeria increased to 0.209 for the period 2016 to 2018.

Nigeria has been pursuing the re-adjustment of the scale due to the economic reality of the country.

However, Mr. Rhodes had told Ms. 0Oyo-Ita that the UN was aware of the economic situation in the country but that the effort was hindered by the General Assembly Resolution that cancelled annual review of scale of assessment.

The Fifth Committee Chairman explained that the Resolution now established three years minimum period of scale of assessment.

According to him, therefore, Nigeria’s scale would be due for review in 2018, being the next scale year.

 

CBN Assign New Directors

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Godwin Emefiele has assigned duties to the newly appointed Deputy Governors who assumed duty on March 28.

The acting Director, Corporate Communications Department, CBN, Mr Isaac Okoroafor, in a statement on Sunday said Mrs Aishah Ahmad was deployed to the Financial System Stability (FSS) Directorate, while Mr Edward Lemetek Adamu was assigned to Corporate Services.

Emefiele also approved the deployment of Dr Okwu Nnanna from the Financial System Stability (FSS) Directorate to the Economic Policy Directorate.

“Mr Adebayo Adelabu, however, retains his portfolio as Deputy Governor, Operations Directorate,” Okoroafor said.

According to Okoroafor, the affected principal officers have since assumed duty in their new duties.

500 Kogi Farmers Receives Training

Sunny DeLegend Services, an NGO, in collaboration with Kogi Government on Saturday trained 500 farmers on “Agriculture Beyond Food: E-commerce Training”.

The Managing Director of the NGO, Mrs Joy Amuta, told journalists in Lokoja that the training would cut across areas such as agriculture, fashion, recycling and real estate.

She added that 10,000 farmers were targeted through value chain with Information and Communication Technology (ICT) including benefits such as workshop, business plan, loan facilities, off-takers opportunity, partnership and business connection.

“Many people do not know that with agriculture you can become a millionaire, and that is the reason we are trying to educate, sensitise and train them in that aspect.

“We are also partnering with Tehilla Shelter Foundation, Heal4Africa Initiative, SMEDAN and other stakeholders to bring hope to the people and restore to them what they had lost in agriculture.

“Today, we are opening the mind of the participants that they can actually channel whatever passion they have into agriculture; you can source your income from agriculture and use it to develop your passion,” she said.

Amuta commended the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Kehinde Oloruntoba, for making the programmme a success, saying the farmers are ready to really engage in mechanised farming.

“We will educate, sensitise, train and give them the necessary information on how they can easily access these funds.

“We urge all farmers across the state to take advantage of the programme and key into it,” she said.

She added that the organisation had mapped out 1,000 hectares of land for this wet season, but that the main challenge was land clearing. She said the commissioner has promised to facilitate it.

Oloruntoba commended the organisers for the initiative, describing it as a wonderful project and a way of empowering the people to richness.

According to Oloruntoba, there is land, water and people; and the government is supporting agriculture, but the NGOs are needed to partner with government to educate and train our people.

“So, programmes like this will create an avenue to let our people know those opportunities that are available to them and take advantage of them.

“We have also completed land mappings few days ago for 4,800 farmers with minimum of one hectare each, for proper information and accurate data to eliminate sharp practices,” he said.

Mr Clement Ilegoke, a participant, said on behalf of his colleagues that: “I think we are impressed because the loans are well explained and we are all ready to go back to the farm and make the state proud.”

{FEATURE} Osun IGR: National Bureau Of Statistics Goofed!

 

By Abiodun Komolafe

Contrary to the Bureau’s misleading position, facts at the disposal of yours sincerely did reveal that the state’s actual full year IGR for 2017 was in excess of N11 billion. Of course, it could have been much more, but for the Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies’ tax audit outstanding, totaling N4 billion, to the state.

Lies, when told too often, unchallenged, have the capacity to be mistaken for the truth. As an indigene of the State of Osun, a key stakeholder in the Osun project and as a living witness to Rauf Aregbesola’s judicious use of the taxpayers’ money for the development of the state, surprise was a better word to describe the recently-released Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) status of Osun for 2017 by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

In the report, NBS stated that internally generated revenues for Osun declined from N8,884,756,040.35 in 2016 to N6,486,524,226.45 in 2017, representing a -26.99% drop. But, in what could be considered a swift reaction, the Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenues Service (FIRS) and Chairman, Joint Tax Board (JTB), Babatunde Fowler, disclosed that the Aregbesola-led administration raised the state’s IGR by more than 35 per cent in 2017. Contrary to the Bureau’s misleading position, facts at the disposal of yours sincerely did reveal that the state’s actual full year IGR for 2017 was in excess of N11 billion. Of course, it could have been much more, but for the Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies’ tax audit outstanding, totaling N4 billion, to the state.

Established by Section 86 (1) of the Personal Income Tax Act cap. P8 LFN 2004, findings also revealed that JTB is the body statutorily mandated to contribute to the advancement of the tax administration in Nigeria”, especially ”in the area of harmonisation of Personal Income Tax administration throughout Nigeria.” Well, one can only hope that appropriate quarters would use the circumstances in Osun to resolve needless conflicts in job descriptions between NBS and JTB.

As Aregbesola remarked while declaring open the Board’s 140th Quarterly Meeting in Osogbo, tax payment is about the most important component of any civilised and forward-looking society; because, “without taxes, there’s no government.” Essentially therefore, sustaining any government involves active participation of the people; and the way to it is taxation! Well, though Osun is at the moment not there in terms of IGR and tax remittances, it bears repeating that the present administration has done well in growing the state’s IGR base from a miserable N300 million monthly average in 2010 to where it currently stands. It is therefore believed that, if the taxable population is mobilised to pay its dues “adequately and sufficiently”, the state will no doubt be better for it.

Let’s come back to the Bureau and its inaccurate information! When Benjamin Disraeli wittily painted ”lies, damned lies and statistics” as three kinds of lies troubling our world, he probably might have had our NBS in mind. This is because inaccurate information distorts facts and misleads the people. It exaggerates accomplishments and stigmatises performance in subsequent tasks. It impinges on the evaluation of the government in power and habitually sets the led against their leaders.

Though endowed with human and natural resources, Osun had never come close to fulfilling its potentials until Aregbesola assumed office as governor. A classical example of impressive performance and impactful governance in times of an unstable economic situation, it is interesting to note that, right from his days in the Bola Tinubu-led administration in Lagos State, Aregbesola has been a passionate advocate of efficient taxation in Nigeria. That he has conspicuously and consistently deployed his unwavering resilience, unmistakable commitment, innovative ideology, administrative ingenuity, political prowess and determined efforts towards making Osun a good example to showcase to the world that taxpayers’ money can be used to develop a society for good did not come as a surprise.

Information feeds democracy! Beyond NBS inaccuracy and cynics’ duplicity, one can easily see that Osun taxpayers’ money is working! For instance, no fewer than 13,000 persons have accessed the free AMBULANCE services and no fewer than 250,000 students in 1,382 public primary schools across the state have been covered in its one-free-meal-per-day policy since its inception. So far, so impressive: primary and secondary healthcare services at public facilities, including anti-retroviral medication, are being rendered free-of-charge. This is in addition to free laboratory services and surgery for pregnant women, children under the age of 5, and elderly persons in 876 Primary Healthcare facilities and 51 Secondary Health facilities across the 67 Local Government Areas, Local Council Development Areas, Area Councils and Administrative Offices in the state.

Between 2010 and 2017, more than 40,000 qualified youth have been employed and empowered under the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES) and no fewer than 100,000 smallholder farmers have so far benefitted from the state’s ‘Agric Land Bank’ programme. Between 2011 and 2015, more than 7,000 farmers from 500 cooperative societies have benefited from the state’s low interest loans under the Quick Intervention Programme (QUIP). Besides, Osun Rehabilitation Programme (O’REHAB) has succeeded in treating no fewer than 100 persons with mental disabilities, particularly those who had been living on the streets while 1,602 elderly persons of age 65 and above, who met poverty criteria, have been receiving N10,000:00 monthly for their upkeep, in addition to medical care, under the ‘Agba Osun’ scheme.

While Aregbesola’s unprecedented revolution in infrastructure development and massive road construction are visible to the naked eye, I had probably underestimated the differences between the education system in Osun and elsewhere in the country until Abiola, my 8-year old boy, had a taste of its carefully-planned academic programme. At a stage, I was close to confronting his headmaster when I learnt of the ‘hurdles’ my little boy would have to cross on his way to qualifying for the Primary School Leaving Certificate Examination.

With these tip-of-the-iceberg achievements, one would have expected a data-dependent organisation and statistical information provider of NBS status to be without blemish in the discharge of its responsibilities to the public. However, obviously imprecise information like the one on hand cannot but compel one to ask if Osun is a state against itself in terms of timely release of facts and figures to relevant agencies for processing. Or is it a case of some prodigals and prostitutes, somewhere, mightily profiting from making dear state a systematic target of slippery, sloppy rumours and conspiracy theories?

 

FG Aims 570,000 Jobs Through ERGP Labs

The Federal Government is looking towards the creation of  570,000 jobs through the implementation of the focused labs under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, stated this In Abuja during the ERGP Mid-Lab syndication meeting.

A statement from the minister’s Media Adviser, Akpandem James, quoted Udoma as saying that the government was positive that given the number of projects that were likely to be ready for approval by the end of the lab process, the aim of resolving inter-agency bottlenecks, which is one of the cardinal objectives of the labs, would have been actuallised.

He said the purpose of setting up the labs was to identify and unlock investments from the private sector by resolving complex inter-agency problems that acted as barriers to private sector investments.

The minister stated, “By bringing you, the investors and heads of critical agencies of government, into a confined environment, the government is offering you a platform to finalise your business decisions in the fastest possible manner.

“Data from the three labs show that in the past three weeks, we are on course to meeting our target of $25bn investment commitment.

“So far, we have identified 59 projects that are four- and five-star. There are several other projects rated one- to three-star. We will continue to work with these categories of investors to improve the ratings of their projects to five-star projects.”

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who also spoke at the event, said he was particularly impressed by the level of commitment, enthusiasm and interest shown by the participants to fast-track the growth and development of the country.

He noted that even though regulatory processes were necessary in order to protect institutions and streamline activities, the government appreciated the fact that it was necessary to limit bureaucratic tendencies so that they would not get in the way of progress.

This, he added, was why the government decided to embark on the labs to address challenges that could stand in the way of investments.

Osinbajo said he was encouraged by the fact that Nigeria had what it takes to realise set goals.

“We have made remarkable progress and working together, we can achieve so much,” he added.

5% Fuel Levy: ‘Nigerians Won’t Accept Another Price Hike’

Any upsurge in the price of Premium Motor Spirt as a result of the five per cent levy on the product as stipulated in the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill that was recently passed by the National Assembly will not be welcomed by Nigerians, oil marketers have said.

According to the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, oil marketers may not  go against plans to increase the price of PMS, popularly called petrol, but such a move will face resistance from the people.

IPMAN members form the largest number of filling station owners across the country, as the association claimed that over 70 per cent of PMS retail outlets in the downstream oil and gas sector were being run by its members.

At the plenary last Wednesday, the Senate passed the harmonised version of the PIGB, which seeks to unbundle the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and merge its subsidiaries such as the Department of Petroleum Resources and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency into one entity.

The proposed law seeks to establish the Petroleum Equalisation Fund “into which shall be paid all monies payable to the Equalisation Fund,” including a five per cent fuel levy “in respect of all fuel sold and distributed within the federation, which shall be charged subject to the approval of the minister (of petroleum resources).”

Reacting to the development, IPMAN’s National Vice-President, Abubakar Maigandi, told our correspondent that any little hike in petrol price at the moment would not be accepted by Nigerians.

He said, “Any increase in the cost of PMS will not work well with Nigerians. I don’t know where they plan to get the five per cent levy from; is it through the Federal Government or through the marketers? However, we marketers are not against any increase (in pump price) provided that our margins are there and clearly stated.

“But from the political point of view, such a move will not work well with the masses. You know that even right now, the Federal Government is subsidising PMS because of the masses, which is good. We marketers appreciate what the government is doing in this regard, but if it decides to increase fuel price, of course, we can’t go against it.”

On the billions of naira owed by the government to marketers for subsidy incurred in previous years, Maigandi stated that the debt was due to the cheap cost of petrol in Nigeria when compared to the price of the commodity in other African countries.

The Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria and Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association had recently threatened to lay off employees if the Federal Government failed to pay the over N650bn debt that it owed oil dealers.

Maigandi said, “As of now, all what I know is that the government is trying its best considering the way things are. I say this because right now, Nigeria is among countries with the lowest costs of PMS. In fact, in Africa, the cost of fuel in Nigeria is one of the cheapest if not the cheapest.

“So, the government is trying its best as far as the sale and distribution of PMS is concerned. Also, marketers are currently pleased with the government because the product is available and the constraints of loading and delivery have significantly reduced.”

When probed further to state if government was owing members of IPMAN, the association’s spokesperson replied, “Normally, there is no way the government can go on without owing us, because they have to pay us the Petroleum Equalisation Fund and this payment is meant to be on a daily basis.

“So, these funds are always with the government, but they are now paying compared to the situation in the past. Therefore, it is right to say that the government is trying its best, especially when you relate it with what obtained in the past. Things are gradually picking up in the sector these days.”

 

Subsidy On Petrol Reaches N1.4tn Per Year, Says FG

A total of N1.4tn is now being spent annually by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation as subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit, popularly known as petrol, the Federal Government has said.

Although it described the amount as under-recovery, the government stated that the national oil firm had been carrion the whole financial burden, because the NNPC is the country’s supplier of last resort when it comes to the provision of petroleum products.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, who opened this up while speaking at a Liquefied Petroleum Gas workshop organised by the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources in Abuja on Thursday, also said that the ministry planned to reveal an infrastructure rebirth map for the oil and gas sector in two months.

On March 5, 2018, the NNPC announced that it was spending N774m daily (about N23.99bn monthly) as subsidy on the 50 million litres of PMS consumed across the country.

The oil firm stated that the huge under-recovery was due to the proliferation of filling stations in communities with international land and coastal borders across the country.

On Thursday, Kachikwu echoed the fact that the NNPC was spending enormous resources subsidising petrol, as he told guests at the programme that about N1.4tn had been declared as under-recovery by the national oil firm

When asked if the N1.4tn, which he earlier mentioned in his address to participants at the workshop, was the current figure being spent by the NNPC, the minister replied, “Yes, it’s current.”

Probed further to state what the government was doing to handle the under-recovery, Kachikwu said, “Let me focus on gas. That (under-recovery) is being addressed at very high levels.”

The Group Managing Director, NNPC, Maikanti Baru, explained that the multiplication of filling stations had energised unprecedented cross-border smuggling of petrol to neighbouring countries, making it difficult to sanitise the fuel supply and distribution matrix in Nigeria.

Baru stated that a detailed study conducted by the NNPC indicated strong correlation between the presence of the frontier stations and the activities of fuel smuggling syndicates.

He said the activities of the smugglers led to the recent abnormal surge in the evacuation of petrol from less than 35 million litres per day to more than 60 million litres per day, which was in sharp contrast to the established national consumption pattern.

Providing a detailed presentation of the findings, the NNPC boss noted that 16 states, having among them 61 local government areas with border communities, accounted for 2,201 registered fuel stations.

He stated that the tanks of the stations had a combined capacity of 144,998,700 litres of petrol, adding that in the same vein, eight states with coastal border communities spread across 24 LGAs accounted for 866 registered fuel outlets, with combined petrol tank capacity of 73,443,086 litres.

Baru explained that because of the obvious differential in petrol prices between Nigeria and other neighbouring countries, it had become lucrative for smugglers to use the frontier stations as a veritable conduit for the smuggling of products across the borders.

This, he said, had resulted in a thriving market for Nigerian petrol in Niger Republic, Benin Republic, Cameroon, Chad and Togo, as well as Ghana, which has no direct borders with Nigeria.

“The NNPC is concerned that continued cross-border smuggling of petrol will deny Nigerians the benefit of the Federal Government’s benevolence of keeping a fixed retail price of N145 per litre despite the increase in PMS open market price above N171 per litre,” Baru stated.

Kachikwu had earlier told journalists that the petroleum resources ministry was planning to unveil an infrastructure rebirth map for the country’s oil and gas sector.

He said the map, which President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to unveil in the next two months, would open up the sector to investments in critical areas.

Kachikwu stated, “There is a lot more private sector investment in upstream than there is in downstream in terms of actual infrastructure, and that is why the government is more focused in upstream. We are also hoping to launch an infrastructure rebirth map for the oil sector over the next two months. And I hope the President will launch it.

“And the effect of that will be to open up tariff, create policy positions that will enable people to go in and invest in critical infrastructure that is needed. Because everywhere you look, whether it is distribution of petroleum products, it is done massively through trucks rather than through pipelines.

“Now, whether it is to take crude to refineries or whether it is being able to distribute gas all over the country, infrastructure is so key. There is a lot of stranded gas everywhere, lots of stranded power everywhere; distribution is key, infrastructure is key. We need to find a way or find enough incentives that will enable the private sector to go in very bullishly and put the money where it is supposed to be.”

Osun Assembly Frowns At Business Owners Avoiding Taxes

By Israel Afolabi

The State of Osun House of Assembly has frowned at business owners that circumvent payment of tariffs and levies to the coffers of the state government.

Chairman House committee on Environment and Sanitation, Hon Ajibola Akinloye stated this on Thursday at a meeting with representatives of Charcoal dealers and officials in charge of forestry in the state at the Assembly Complex Osogbo.

Akinloye made it known that this is the second meeting held with the association to let permanent peace reign in the State and to iron out the issues in connection with their businesses, adding that it will ensure that no category of people in the charcoal business is made to carry the burden of levies and tariffs payment on behalf of others.

According to him, business men and women should avoid cutting corners in their business transaction in the state, because government is trying to do its best to develop the state, saying the House will take a bold step on Charcoal producers that are not paying their dues and tariff to the government.

However, he charged the forest guards not to overcharge the people in order to avoid fraudulent act and unethical practice in forestry activities.

He also maintained that the legislators will soon hold a meeting with Charcoal producers in the state to achieve mutual understanding of government policy on forestry activities.

In his contribution, member of the committee, Hon. Ibrahim Gbadebo urged the Charcoal dealer association to assist government with their taxes and other levies for state to generate revenue.

He advised the Association Executives to embrace openness and unity in their business transactions and comply with rules and regulations.

Meanwhile, in his reaction, the Special Assistance to the Governor on Forestry Mr. Gbemileke Ayanbunmi explained that government only charges levies on charcoal producers not the sellers.

According to him, there is nothing like double taxation in the state, forestry charges are meant for the Charcoal producer not for the sellers”.

Speaking earlier, Chairman and Secretary of Charcoal Dealers Association in the state, Mr Adisa Akinloye and Mrs. Bola Ayankanye explained the difficulty often encountered while the charcoals are on transit to the town.

They stated that their resolve to be paying levies on behalf of producers was to fast-track their trading activities.

They also pleaded with the House to find lasting solution to their problems and requested that government should reduce the charges to N50.00 per bag.