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NNPC seeks World Bank’s endorsement for petroleum bill

Oscarline Onwuemenyi
ABUJA – The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has disclosed plans to present the Petroleum Industry Bill to the World Bank, in a bid to get the global financial institution’s buy-in into the reforms.

The Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr. Mohammed Barkindo, who made the disclosure in an interview with Vanguard in Abuja , noted that no piece of legislation in the country had generated the level of interest as has the PIB.

Speaking on the planned visit scheduled for November this year, the NNPC GMD said it was only proper to get international stakeholders to be interested in the reforms in the oil and gas sector, in order to eliminate any controversies.

He said, “This is in continuation of the interaction with the international  institutions that have shown tremendous interest in the bill as a reform agenda. We have been in direct contact with the IMF and the World Bank in the bid to get them to appreciate the scope of the reforms that is going on in our oil and gas industry.

“These are all very positive developments since there is no reform programme of government that we know of that has generated this level of interest both within and outside the country, and everybody should be commended for the great work put into this bill.”

Barkindo added, “I cannot think of any piece of legislation that has generated the level of interest and a corresponding level of transparency by government and all the institutions in the nation’s petroleum industry that participated in submitting the joint memorandum.

“We are confident that the passage of this bill will fundamentally transform the entire oil and gas, and indeed energy, landscape of this economy.”
A team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was recently in Nigeria to understudy the Petroleum Industry Bill, proposed by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, which recently scaled through the second reading in the Senate.

Head of the delegation and Adviser to the Fiscal Affairs Department of IMF, Mr. Charles McPherson, said during the visit to the Minister of Petroleum Resources and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, in Abuja , that the Fund was impressed by the work put into crafting the bill.

McPherson lauded the proposed bill, describing it as “a very exciting project, done very professionally and thoroughly with the aim of revamping Nigeria ’s oil and gas industry.”

According to him, “We are impressed by what we have seen so far. We have some of our experts here to look closely at the bill from various angles, and hope to come up with very objective comments to foster the aim of the bill for the Nigerian people.”

The PIB has come under a lot of opposition, especially from International Oil Companies (IOCs) over issues of royalty and tax regimes proposed by the bill.

The IMF adviser said his team would focus on the fiscal provisions of the bill including taxation, commercialization, sectoral organization, accountability and governance issues.

He said, “We are also interested in the funding aspects which cover issues of International Joint Ventures and the commercialization of the NNPC. These are areas we consider important to the objective of the bill, especially since it aims to free up funds in the budget for development projects.”
The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dr. Rilwanu Lukman, had earlier explained that there was no better time for the nation to reform its oil and gas industry than now, if it must begin to reap the benefits of the petroleum industry.

He said the ministry had engaged experts that would assist government in the job of crafting an effective law for the country, and to ensure that the bill when passed would do the work it was designed to do.

Lukman further noted that the proposed bill would align the country’s oil and gas industry to international best practices as well as establish a fiscal framework that is strongly in the interest of Nigeria .

He said the reforms “cut across every facet of the industry and in particular frees the sector from the constraints of government funding whilst removing barriers to the participation of new small and big players through the flexible fiscal system and clear rules of engagement by all with impartial umpires.“Its benefits are clear to see. The government is also determined to pursue this to its logical conclusion.”


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