The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), has said the N2.659 trillion debt owed the federation by 77 oil and gas companies, could help boost the nation’s economic development by offsetting governments $2.68 billion debt in 2020, service its capital budget or address basic infrastructural deficits.
Executive Secretary of NEITI Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, who made the disclosure at the mid-year media briefing on the status of EITI implementation in Nigeria and presentation of its scorecard in the past seven months on Tuesday in Abuja, said the total liabilities of the 77 companies was at the agencies’ 2019 independent audit report of the oil and gas sector.
According to him, the debt arose from the companies’ failure to remit petroleum profit tax, company income tax, education tax, value added tax, withholding tax, royalty and concession on rentals.
He said: “The NEITI reports based on findings in its 2019 audit reports of the oil and gas sector show that oil and gas companies in Nigeria owe the government about $6.48 billion which equals about N2.659 trillion at today’s exchange rate of N410.35.
“A breakdown of the figures shows that a total of $143.99 million is owed as petroleum profit taxes, $1.089 billion as company income taxes and $201.69 million as education tax.
“Others include $18.46 million and £972, 000 as Value Added Tax, $23.91million and £997, 000 as Withholding Tax, $4.357 billion as royalty oil, $292.44 million as royalty gas, while $270.187 million and $41.86 million were unremitted gas flare penalties and concession rentals respectively.”
The NEITI boss stressed that the N2.65 trillion could come in handy, given government’s current search for revenues to address citizens’ demand for steady power, access to good roads, quality education, fighting insurgency and creation of job opportunities for the country’s teeming youths.
Dr. Orji disclosed NEITI was determined to help the government recover the money saying: “We therefore appeal to these companies to ensure that they remit the various outstanding sums against them before the conclusion of the 2020 NEITI audit cycle to the relevant government agencies responsible for collection and remittances of such revenue.
He listed the agency’s achievements within the lady seven months to include: re-constitution and inauguration of the NEITI Board; commencement of process of reviewing of NEITI Act to strengthen its powers and functions; timely publication and presentation of the reports; securing permanent office accommodation for the agency after 17 years of squatting on rent; sustained and diversified partnerships with key stakeholders and partners.
Other achievements are: appointment of NEITI into the implementation of the PIA; commencement of the development of a five-year NEITI Strategic Plan (2022-2026); NEITI Audit Automation Project; Nigeria’s involvement in Opening Extractives program; NEITI’s appointment to lead the global EITI Contract Transparency Network; Designing of a new, functional and Interactive website and reconstitution of the civil society and communication sub-committee among others.