By Umar Muhammad Puma
The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has said that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), determines rate in which royalties paid in dollars are converted to naira before remitting into the federation account therefore, should be aware of the revenue leakages in the sector.
Recall, the House of Representatives Adhoc Committee is investigating Revenue Leakages in the oil and gas sector from January 2016 to January, 2017.
Speaking before the committee through its head planning, Mrs. Folasade Odunuga, the Department also urged the panel to find out from the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), why it’s subsidiary, the National Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), has refused to pay royalties on its crude production activities, adding that the “NPDC remains the worst debtor in the oil and gas industry”.
Chairman of the committee, Rep Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe (PDP, Cross River) had sought for clarification on the disparities observed in the receipts of remittances submitted by IOCs as issued by the DPR.
According to some of the receipts made available to the panel, the remitted amount (in naira) into the federation account fell short of its dollar value using current exchange rates, causing the lawmakers to ask questions as to why that could have been under the supervision of the DPR.
It was observed that the CBN has been converting dollar remittances using about N167 to $1 instead of the current N305 to $1, but Mrs Odunuga told the committee that “royalties on crude oil are paid strictly in dollars directly into the federation account in JP Morgan, managed by the CBN”.
She explained that there are other royalties that come in both naira and dollars, adding that payment invoice is based on what currency it was paid in.
The members probed further on the invoices showing DPR converting dollars into naira before remitting to government accounts, but the DPR officials denied, saying that such is never done as the Department doesn’t handle cash directly.
“Reciepts are always written after we get our statement of account from the CBN. We do not receive any money nor have any interface with any payment. All payments are made directly to the federation account. It’s their obligation to pay before we evaluate because the law allows them to pay within 90 days”, the Head Planning said.
Asked why they don’t doubt whatever the CBN gives to them, and if it has never occured to the DPR that the Federal Government was being shortchanged by what the CBN allegedly disclosed as paid in naira component, DPR director, Mordecai Baba Ladan said: “We’ve had a good working relationship with the CBN over the yers and we’ve not had any iota of dubt that what the CBN gave to us was inaccurate. So to say that we go and do independent investigation as to the facts given to us by the CBN has never crossed our minds”.
On why the regulator has not been able to liquidate over $158 million owed by OICs from 2000 to 2015, the head of planing said OICs who are indebted to government have been adamant as to the amount they should remit.
She explained that while the OICs have insisted that what they owe is less than what DPR has evaluated, the worst debtor in the industry is the NPDC which is the exploration arm of the NNPC, urging the panel to ask the Corporation why it’s subsidiary has refused to pay royalties to government.
“We may be children of same father and different mother, and it’s what our father instruct that we should, and in this case, every body is expected to pay what’s due to the father, but some are not doing that, so we need the House to ask why”, Odunuga said.
Also asked to confirm the assertion by Exxon Mobil that it has been re-injecting its gas and therefore couldn’t pay royalty on gas sales, the DPR technical officier informed the panel that it was a lie.
She noted that no company has achieved hundred percent gas re-injection, adding that the department has evidence and records from the field showing that Exxon Mobil has been selling gas.