REPS RESUMPTION: PIB, 2012 BUDGET, CONSTITUTION REVIEW TOP AGENDA

By NBF News
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As the House of Representatives end their two-month long annual recess, ADESUWA TSAN and EDEGBE ODEMWINGIE report on key issues that will dominate deliberations of federal lawmakers.

PIB: One delay too many
The freshly presented Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) put mildly, has suffered a healthy dose of delays since its introduction. The seventh legislative session undoubtedly chases history if it can see through the successful passage of the huge anticipated Bill.

The ambitious PIB which seeks to redirect Nigeria's oil sector has been years in the making and several other versions have been inconclusively debated by the National Assembly.

Signs of things to come are already being seen. Federal lawmakers on Thursday, July 19 plenary, sounded out to Nigerians, familiar tunes that have typically been the fate of past ill-fated attempts to pass the PIB.

The House of Representatives described as 'curious' President Goodluck Jonathan's decision to forward the PIB on a day lawmakers proceeded on their two-month long break.

Coming under privilege, a move by the Lower House Minority Leader, Femi Gbajabimiala (Lagos/ACN) to lobby federal lawmakers to return the contentious PIB to the president for fresh submission when the Lower House resumes from its recess failed.

'I wonder why it (PIB) was brought on the day we are going on vacation. We are not back till September. The word out there will be that Mr President has done his work but the House of Representatives are delaying', Gbajabimiala stated.

Blame Jonathan for PIB delay
The Lower House Speaker, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, in his submission, insisted that President Jonathan was duly briefed by both chambers of the National Assembly of the annual recess undertaken by federal lawmakers, hence any delay in the treatment of the PIB is solely the fault of the Presidency.

Tambuwal said, 'In our engagement with the executive, the Senate President and myself made it clear that we are going on break today (July 19). The executive is aware of our calendar

'Our understanding with the president is that the PIB was coming in June, this is July. This delay was not in any way caused by the National Assembly.

PIB highlights
Objectives
Enhanced exploration and exploitation of petroleum resources in Nigeria for the benefit of the people

Optimize domestic gas supplies, particularly for power generation and industrial development

Deregulate and liberalise the downstream petroleum sector

Tax
Oil companies will pay tax on a percentage of the chargeable profits as follows: 50 per cent for onshore and shallow water areas; 25 per cent for frontier acreage and deep water areas.

Petroleum host communities fund
Oil companies will contribute into the fund for Niger Delta communities 10 per cent of net profits - less royalties, deductions and allowances, hydrocarbon tax and income tax. The host fund will cover the cost of repairs to any oil facilities damaged by vandalism, sabotage and civil unrest.

New institutions
The National Oil Company (NOC)  will hold certain assets and liabilities of the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp (NNPC). The assets and liabilities held by the NNPC on behalf of the government, except the interests in the unincorporated joint ventures and Nigerian Gas Company shall be vested in the NOC within 12-24 months

  National Petroleum Assets Management Corp will own and manage many of NNPC's assets not handed to the new NOC

National Gas Company will divest up to 49 per cent of shares to the stock exchange within six years of being incorporated

Upstream Petroleum Inspectorate will regulate oil and gas production, enforce laws, grant licenses and carry out bid licensing rounds

* Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Agency takes over from the current Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).

Other key highlights
  The pricing of petroleum products in the downstream product sector will be deregulated to ensure a market related pricing, in essence removing the federal government sponsored fuel subsidies.

  The president will have the power to grant oil licenses

  Gas flaring will be banned at a date to be decided by the oil minister.

Budget: An impeachment threat or not?
July 19, federal lawmakers expressed worry that seven months into the 2012 fiscal year, the federal government's implementation of the budget as reported by various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) has been dismal.

A call by the Lower House Minority Leader for lawmakers to begin impeachment processes on President Jonathan over poor budget implementation received widespread cheers.

'President Goodluck Jonathan promised Nigerians a budget of transformation, but what we have is a budget of 'abracadabra' and a 'voodoo' economy.

'With great trepidation, I think it is time come September, if the budget is not implemented, we invoke and begin to draft articles of impeachment against the president', the Minority Leader proposed throwing July 19 plenary into frenzied reactions.

However, in the lead-up to today's resumption, cracks may have began to appear in the House of Representatives reported threat to invoke articles of impeachment against Jonathan over the budget matter as the Lower House Deputy Chairman, Media and Public Affairs, Victor Ogene, told LEADERSHIP that no motion regarding the impeachment threat is presently before the Lower House.

Ogene (Anambra/APGA) insisted that what was being bandied as an impeachment threat was not a resolution of the Lower House but a personal contribution of a lawmaker on July 19 plenary.

'As we speak, there is no motion regarding impeachment before the House of Representatives. What happened remained the issue of how far the 2012 budget has been implemented in terms of releases, award of contracts etc', Ogene stated.

He added, 'There was never an impeachment threat. What we had was a directive to the executive that we are not happy with the slow pace of implementation if the 2012 budget and that all efforts should be put in gear to ensure that we have 100% implementation by September'.

For all it is worth, Tambuwal instructed the 89 Lower House Standing Committees to conduct a thorough appraisal of the status of the implementation of the 2012 budget.

The report of the probe is expected to be submitted today.

The Speaker's directive was communicated to all committee Chairmen in a letter dated September 10, 2012 and signed by the Deputy Leader, Leo Okuweh Ogor.

In the letter obtained by LEADERSHIP, Tambuwal instructed that the report upon collation should be submitted to the House Leader, Mulikat Adeola-Akande on or before September 18.

The 5-paragraph letter read in part, 'You (referring to Committee Chairs) are to request all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) that you oversight to submit the status of all releases of funds; how much has been accessed, contracts awarded and general implementation status of the 2012 Appropriation Act.

'You are to ensure strict compliance as the information collated will form the basis of the decisions of the House on resumption.


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