Stakeholders in the Niger Delta have expressed gratitude to the Senate for the passage of the much-awaited Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), with approval of five per cent levy on fuel sold across the country.
The stakeholders, who spoke with The Tide, in Port Harcourt, yesterday, said that the passage of the bill by the Senate, last Wednesday, was a welcome development, more than 14 years after the bill was introduced in the National Assembly.
They argued that the bill, if assented into law, would enhance economic revitalisation of the region, and boost revenue inflow across all oil producing states in the region, while at the same time curbing youth restiveness and unemployment.
It would be recalled that the passage of the bill was sequel to unanimous adoption of the report on the Bill presented by Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), Senator Tayo Alasoadura by the lawmakers at plenary, last Wednesday.
The Bill is the culmination of several years of efforts at reforming the oil and gas industry.
The process began under former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2000, with the establishment of Oil and Gas Implementation Committee (OGIC).
“OGIC issued a report and policy document, which was later approved by the Late Musa Yar’ Adua’s administration and resulted in the Petroleum Industry Bill being forwarded to the 6th National Assembly.”
The Bill went through several redrafts, including a wholesale amendment by the Executive arm of government, but it ultimately failed to be passed during the 6th National Assembly.
In the aftermath of the fuel subsidy protests in January, 2012, the then Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Deziani Alison-Madueke announced the establishment of a technical committee to harmonise the various versions of the draft bill.
The PIGB as passed seeks to provide for the governance and institutional framework for the petroleum industry.
Specifically, the PIGB seeks to unbundle the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), provide for the establishment of Federal Ministry of Petroleum Incorporated and Nigerian Petroleum Regulatory Commission.
Others are Nigerian Petroleum Assets Management Company and National Petroleum Company and Petroleum Equalisation Fund.
The regulatory bill bulkanises NNPC and creates the National Petroleum Commission.
It scraps the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and establishes the Nigeria Petroleum Regulatory Commission which will take over the functions of the three agencies.
It also empowers the body to issue licenses, permits or authorisations for downstream gas, petroleum products, storage depots, retail outlets, transportation and distribution facilities for the industry.
The five per cent fuel levy will be used to finance the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) as established in the bill.
This followed consideration and adoption of the conference committee report on the PIGB at plenary.
Section 36 (1) (a) of the Bill provides that “there shall be established the Petroleum Equalisation Fund into which shall be paid all monies payable to the Equalisation Fund by way of a five per cent fuel levy.
“This is in respect of all fuel sold and distributed within the Federation which shall be charged subject to the approval of the Minister (of Petroleum)”.
Other sources of funding PEF, according to the Bill, include subventions, fees and charges for services rendered as well as net surplus revenue recovered from petroleum products marketing companies.
The Bill says Equalisation Fund shall collect all revenues and levies charged, determine the net surplus revenue recoverable from any oil marketing company.
“Determine the amount of reimbursement due to any oil marketing company for purposes of equalisation of price of products among others.’’
Speaking after the bill was passed, President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the bill.
“I hope with this, we will get the assent of the President and hopefully open a new page for the petroleum industry,” he said.
Meanwhile, the President of the Senate Dr Bukola Saraki took to his twitter handle @BukolaSaraki announced yesterday that the Senate has passed a total of 201 bills in three years and congratulate his colleagues for a job well done.
Saraki expressed optimism that in the 15 months that were left, the senate would pass more bills that will affect the lives of Nigerians.
“As of today, the Senate has passed 201 Bills. We still have 15 months to go, yet, we have reached this milestone. I would like to thank my Distinguished Colleagues for their hard work and cooperation over the last 33 months.
As of today, the Senate has passed 201 Bills. We still have 15 months to go, yet, we have reached this milestone.
I would like to thank my Distinguished Colleagues for their hard work and cooperation over the last 33 months, Saraki said.