The absence of accurate and authentic data has been identified as major factors responsible for the federal government losing accruable revenues from the country’s mining sector.
This is contained in a report titled: “Improving Transparency and Governance for Value Optimisation in Nigeria’s Mining Sector,” released by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) in Abuja yesterday.
According to the report, the challenges associated with underreporting of mineral production have attendant implications for the amount of revenue reported by collection agencies.
Presenting the report, the editorial consultant, Prof. Gbenga Okunlola, said, “Much of the data on Nigerians mineral production remain unreliable mostly due to the fact that the mining operations are conducted mostly by small scale artisanal miners, and also due to the proliferation of illegal mining across the country.
“The existence of these factors increases the likelihood that production volumes are either understated or not reported at all by some operators.
“The constraints of on-site monitoring and enforcement also compounds the problem as operators take advantage of poor oversight to under-declare production,” Gbenga said.
Speaking on the regulatory framework in the sector, the editorial consultant said, given the extensive and comprehension reviews of the Nigeria mining regulation, it was obvious that the country boasts of a regulatory framework that can measure up to some of the best in the world.
In his welcome address, the executive secretary NEITI, Waziri Adio, said the agency embarked on the project as a way of ensuring transparency in the mining sector. He stated that all stakeholders have to work together to improve the sector’s performance.
“As you are all aware our mandate is to promote transparency, accountability in the management of revenue from the extractive sector and that we have been doing by doing our traditional audit which involves looking at how much companies have paid and how much government is receiving.
“This is what we have been doing but if that is the only thing we are going to do the ultimate reason why we exist will not be met, we will just be turning out reports and make recommendations. We need to do much more than that and we need to their part.”
He however noted that if the agency continue to roll out audited accounts without providing information that can improve how extractive resources are used it will remain unfulfilled.
“The ultimate reason why we exist is to reverse what is referred resource curse, which is that countries that are endure with natural resource end up being poor and being conflict ridden and corrupt but rather that they use the resources for the betterment and improvement of the welfare of their people .
“So if we think that by just publishing transactions about finance, how much people are paid , how much government is receiving, if we think that will solve that problem we are deceiving ourselves. A lot more need to happen, information is very important.
“We will do the work we have been asked to do but we also have an entrepreneurial interpretation of our mandate which is to continue to see how the information can begin to lead to action and lead to reform. In the first instance government will have more money, the environment for business will be deepened so that more actors can come in and they can create jobs, pay more taxes and royalties to government. But beyond that is to make sure that government uses the revenue that is accruable for the development of the people,” he said.
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