Nigeria has introduced the ongoingÂ reform in its oil and gas sector, including the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), to IMF scrutiny in an effort to secure its support and endorsement.
Opening the meeting of IMF officials and various agencies involved in the reform and its implementation in Abuja on Tuesday, Petroleum Resources Minister Rilwanu Lukman said the process was aimed at repositioning and strengthening the industry. He said that the PIB, awaiting passage at the National Assembly, had since passed the first and second readings after the Assembly held public hearings on it.
Lukman said the multinational oil companies operating in the country made useful presentations, especially on the fiscal regime aspects of the bill, such as taxes, royalties and cash call obligations, during the various stakeholdersâ€™ sensitisation fora.
â€œThere is only one draft on the PIB and the National Assembly is working on it to ensure an early passage. I hope the Assembly will borrow more from your extremely rich, experienced submission to re-craft the bill,â€ Lukman said.
The minister said the bill provided for more transparent transactions in the industry, was more beneficial to all parties and partners, allowed increased participation by new entrants and provided greater incentives to local firms.
According to him, Nigeriaâ€s oil and gas industry has evolved in a different version, having also borrowed from other countries and jurisdictions.
â€œThis is to achieve for us the goal which we have set for ourselves. When passed, the bill will allow us to benefit optimally from the hydrocarbon re sources and develop the industry for the real value. We will be interested to hear your views or recommendations to the bill which is still awaiting passage. The national Assembly will be willing to accept your recommendations to enrich the bill,â€ Lukman said In a remark, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mr Mohammed Barkindo, said the Inter-Agency Teamâ€s presentation to the IMF delegation was the outcome of the reform already submitted to the National Assembly during the public hearings.
â€œThe transformation in NNPC is part of the reform process in the industry. By the time the bill is passed, the corporation would have finalised the reformation agenda. We have begun the process. Now, we seek your support and endorsement of the transformation,â€ Barkindo said.
Responding, Mr Charles Macpherson, a financial analyst and adviser at the IMF, who led the team, said he was impressed with the level of work Nigeria did on the bill. He said the team would study the documents to locate areas it could make recommendations to strengthen Nigeriaâ€s new but omnibus legislation to drive its oil and gas industry.
â€œWe look forward to working with you. You have laid the basis for transparency and transformation and this is exciting. We will sustain this dialogue and work,â€ Macpherson said. The team leader said he looked forward to receiving Lukman in Washington next month to advance the PIB cause.
Officials from NNPC, PPPRA, NEITI, NAPIMS, Directorate of Petroleum Resources, Federal Ministry of Finance, Federal Ministry of Justice and Budget Office of the Federation, attended the interface.