The Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), Senator Tayo Alasoadura, has said the $4.977bn unremitted fund by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and its subsidiary, the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company, is capable of wiping off the 2016 budget deficit of N3tn.
Alasoadura, who is also the co-Chairman of the Senate ad-hoc committee investigating the alleged non-remittance of over $4.977bn by the two bodies, said this at the opening of a public hearing on the unlawful misappropriation and wilful withholding of funds by the NNPC and NPDC from 2013 to date in Abuja, on Wednesday.
He said the amount being investigated was too huge to be ignored, adding that what the committee was investigating was the non-remittance of over N3tn.
“Now, the 2016 budget has a deficit of N3tn. If we had these unremitted fund, we probably would not be running a deficit,” the lawmaker lamented.
He said this just as the Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, Mr. Waziri Adio, recommended that the two entities be made to settle the outstanding liabilities totalling $4.977bn and N68.2bn, which had yet to be remitted to the Federation Account.
Adio, had in his presentation before the committee, said the NPDC was a 100 per cent owned subsidiary of the NNPC involved in upstream operations and that it was currently involved in the operations of three categories of Oil Mining Licences.
According to him, some are acquired and others are transferred fields, which are being operated on behalf of the NNPC by the NPDC.
He said issues identified from the NEITI audits with regard to the NPDC were broadly categorised into arrears of liabilities of taxes, royalties and levies; and lifting on behalf of the federation from the NPDC operatorship of OPL (49, 51, 20&13); SPDC Joint Ventures and NAOC Joint Ventures.
Adio said, “A total of N68.2bn was outstanding liabilities for PAYE, WHT, EDT,VAT and NDDC Levy, while $3.3bn is the outstanding liabilities for royalty oil, royalty gas, PPT and gas flare penalty. There were unremitted funds to the Federation by NPDC as at December 31, 2014.”
While recommending what should be done, he said, “Prompt settlement of all outstanding liabilities by the NPDC, i.e. $4.977bn ($3.277bn plus $1.7bn) and N68.2bn. The NPDC should as a matter of urgency settle the consideration of the divested assets.”
NEITI also called for an investigation to unravel all issues surrounding the transactions involving the transfer of OMLs to the NPDC, and overdue period taken to remit all liabilities.
Earlier, the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, who was represented at the occasion by Senator Magnus Abe, said the Senate under his leadership would ensure that public funds were properly accounted for.
He charged the committee to give the assignment the seriousness it deserved, noting that all those found culpable of diverting public funds should not go scot free.