Senate Rejects Removal of Fuel Subsidy
The Nigerian Senate on Thursday rejected a recommendation by its Committee on Finance, asking the Federal Government to remove the subsidy on petroleum products.
Senators hinged their rejection of the proposal on allegations that billions of dollars voted for the purpose of subsidy was being misapplied annually.
The Senate equally rejected a proposal by the committee for government to accept the N813.8bn subsidy deductions by the NNPC from January 2012 to July 2013, since it was certified by the PPPRA and appropriated for by the National Assembly.
This decision was taken at Thursday’s plenary during deliberations on the report of the Committee set up to investigate allegations by ex-Central Bank Governor and now Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido that US$49.8billion oil revenues were unaccounted for by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
The Senate however agreed with the committee’s recommendation that NNPC should refund to the Federation Account, the total sum of $218,069,354.32 being the balance of the gross lifting under the third party financing.
It accepted that the subsidy deducted by NNPC in the sum of N180bn for the fourth quarter of 2011 which was also certified by the PPPRA and appropriated by the National Assembly.
It also directed that government ministries, department and agencies such as the Ministry of Finance, NNPC, CBN and the Federal Inland Revenue Service should hold inter-agency reconciliation meetings on a regular basis to avoid a repeat of this kind of misunderstanding.
It advised that NNPC should not pay for their operational expenditures direct from the Federation Fund without appropriation by the National Assembly.
It asked the NNPC to adhere strictly to international best practices in record keeping.
It cautioned that NNPC should not control the revenue account of Nigerian Petroleum Development Company so as not to undermine its separate legal status and make accountability more difficult.
It also advised the NNPC to ensure due process and diligence in its operations, and urged the Senate to urgently pass the Petroleum Industry Bill into law so as avoid the mistakes of the past.
President of the Senate, David Mark, said, “At the inception of the 7th senate, I did say emphatically that there is no issue in this country that we cannot discuss as respected and distinguished senators of the federal republic of Nigeria, if we have the courage to set up a committee nothing will stop us from taking the report of that committee and nothing will be swept under the carpet in this red chamber.
“I think what is common glaringly from this report is that we are all guilty. If the committees expected to carry out over sight functions on the NNPC were doing their job very well, we wouldn’t have needed the Governor of Central Bank to ring an alarm bell before reacting.
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