By Umar Muhammad Puma
The House of Representatives Adhoc Committee investigating over N6trillion revenue leakages, yesterday grilled oil giant, Agip Nigeria Oil limited over alleged unremitted royalties and penalties arising from gas flaring in the Niger Delta region.
To this end, the committee gave the company till Monday, November 13, to submit all existing documents as proof of reconciled transactions between it and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), ahead of its investigative hearing on November 15.
The directive followed an interface between the panel and the company during which officials of Agip claimed that every outstanding liabilities had been cleared via periodic reconciliation with the regulator.
Responding to queries by the panel, the general manager of Agip in charge of finance, Mr. Carlo Santopadre stated that based on the information the company got, they were at the House to provide responses to issues of unremitted royalties and unpaid penalties.
He however, suggested that with regards to single item, it was up to the committee to decide whether the company sets up a technical committee to reconcile all the differences and get back to it, adding that “the permission will afford us the opportunity to address all existing grey areas”.
Also offering more clarification, Oluwole Agbede who is the tax manager at Agip, said “we usually have annual reconciliation exercise with the DPR where grey areas are ironed out and the DPR has never come back to us that what we submitted were not accurate”.
On the issue of PSC, he said the company has remitted N169million, adding that “as for the issue of royalty that is causing differences, we don’t know where that is coming from, but we have our own accurate figures rightly remitted into the federation account.
Asked if Agip is not supposed to pay royalty, he said Agip does pay but computes its royalties and remits same into government account provided by the regulator.
He added saying that the operators check the numbers with DPR which they compute and very well known to the DPR, saying, “If there’s any catch-up payment, we reconcile and remit, and there has been no issue with that ever since”.
Rep James Abiodun Faleke, a member of the committee at this point asked, saying: “so what you are telling us is that government should take your figures and then agree that it’s the correct thing”?
While responding that it was not the case, the tax manager informed the panel that they took products last in 2016 and are still making payments with reconciliation going on.
The committee Chairman, Rep Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe (PDP Cross River) informed the officials that “what we look at is the volume of products
taken by you as there is computation done in this regard, and the people who do this is the DPR”.
Jarigbe asked if they have meters for gas flared, the Mr. Barry Nwibani, General Manager, Nigeria Content Development at Agip said there is no gas flared at the well heads, but at the flow stations, assuring the panel of making documents available to that effect.
Jarigbe ruled that “Agip must provide its own evidence of remittances and at the end, we will look at what you have and what DPR has, and then involve experts for on-the-spot assessment to advise the House appropriately”.
He reminded the company that the hearing is on November 15 and members are going to be working with facts, demanding that all necessary documents are submitted by Monday.