BY ADEBIYI ADEDAPO and BODE GBADEBO, Abuja
Barring any last-minute change, the Senate will today suspend plenary to allow its various committees commence the review of the 2020 budget implementation as well as enable ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) defend their 2021 budget proposal.
This is coming just as the two chambers of the National Assembly are expected to commence debate on the Petroleum Industry Bill forwarded to them recently by President Muhammadu Buhari.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, made the disclosure shortly after the Senate passed the 2021 Appropriations Bill for Second Reading on Thursday last week.
Lawan, however, informed MDAs that the deadline for budget defence in the Red Chamber would not exceed the first week of November.
He, therefore, urged all ministers and heads of government agencies to avail themselves of the window provided for the defence of their
respective budgets, particularly in line with President Buhari’s directive.
Lawan said, “On Tuesday next week, we will be taking the debate on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB). This will be the last function that we would do in plenary.
“We will suspend plenary on Tuesday for the budget defence processes to start immediately”.
Also, the PIB which had scaled first reading last week will also be passed for second reading today after the debate.
LEADERSHIP gathered that debate on the PIB will last for just one day after which the Senate and the House of Representatives will suspend plenary for three weeks for budget defense exercise on the 2021 budget estimates by MDAs.
The proposed PIB law is expected to provide legal, governance, regulatory and fiscal framework for the Nigerian petroleum industry, development of the host communities and other related matters,
A copy of the 239 paged documents sighted by our correspondent is divided into five chapters with 319 sections and seven schedules.
Chapter one deals with governance instructions, establishment of the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority which seeks to transform the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation to a Limited Liability company with the federal government as the sole shareholder.
Chapter two deals with general administration of oil and gas in the country, while chapter three deals with all issues concerning the host communities and the responsibilities of oil companies to the host community, while establishing the Host community development trust fund.
Chapter four of the bill deals with fiscal framework of the petroleum industry, hydrocarbon tax, chargeable tax, offences and penalties, application of company income tax among others while chapter five deals with legal procedures, repeals, transfer of assets, employees and condition of service as well as transfer of existing host communities development projects and schemes.
When passed, the law will scrap the Department of Petroleum Resources, the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Authority and the Petroleum Equalisation Fund while transforming the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) into a limited liability company.
It would be recalled that while giving insights into the proposed
legislation after a meeting with the leadership of the National
Assembly to discuss the redrafted PIB on Monday, September 28, the minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, had debunked media reports that the scrapping of NNPC was one of the items proposed in the bill.
Speaking with journalists after the closed-door meeting, Sylva said
the country’s oil corporation would only be commercialised as part of
measures to transform the oil industry as contemplated by the proposed law.
Also, in order to strengthen the existing Local Content laws in the
country’s oil and gas sector, the National Assembly has commenced
moves to enact three new legislations.
This is even as stakeholders in the sector kicked against the engagement of expatriates as workers for more than three years.
To this end, the joint committees of the Senate and House of
Representatives on Local Content yesterday organised a two-day public hearing on the three Bills before the National Assembly.
According to the chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Content, Senator Teslim Folarin (APC, Oyo Central), the proposed legislation are very important and sacrosanct to the development of the country’s oil and gas industry, which is one of the most viable sub-sectors of the economy.
Folarin stated that the Bills, which are being jointly processed by
the two chambers of the National Assembly, are the Nigerian Oil and
Gas Industry Content Development Act, 2010 (Amendment) Bill, 2020; the Nigerian Local Content Enforcement Bill, 2020; and the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Act, 2010 (Repeal and Re-Enactment Bill, 2020.
He explained that the Bills, among other things, specifically seek to
consolidate on the gains of the implementation of Local Content
component in the oil and gas industry, the aftermath of the enactment of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act, 2010.
His words: “One of the Bills also seeks to provide the needed legal framework for the implementation of local content in other key sectors of the
economy, including Power, ICT, Construction and Transportation.
“The enactment of this Bill, will no doubt, provide the legal basis
for the enforcement of the Presidential Executive Order No. 5 of 5th
February 2018, which seeks to improve local content procurement with
regards to science, engineering and technology
components of the economy”.
The lawmaker added that the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Act, 2010 (Repeal and Re-Enactment Bill, 2020 seeks to repeal the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Act, 2010 and establish the Nigerian Local Content Development and Enforcement Commission to address the local content needs of all the sectors of the nation’s economy.
For his part, president of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, who declared the public hearing open, commended sponsors and supporters of the bills for seeking to provide the precise legislative frameworks needed to properly harness the country’s many potentials.
Lawan noted that in adding value to the economy from the oil and gas industry, the nation was responding to the call to expand her gains beyond resource revenue.
He stated: “The significance of value is far-reaching in any system. They deal
with substance. They are also of high quality, because it goes beyond a primary benefit, to the documentation of multiple avenues for content development.
“Content is value-adding, and enriching, aside from its ability to
promote originality. Uniqueness further comes from good thinking,
purposefulness and consistency in policy outlines, which also depends on good laws”.
Many of the stakeholders who made contributions on the first day of
the public hearing, including Festus Osifo who represented oil and gas
workers vehemently opposed the engagement of expatriates in the oil and gas sector beyond three years.
He accused most of the oil firms of flouting the local content law
through the engagement of expatriates in different ways even as he
called for more stringent laws against such practices.