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Senate Will Lay Pib Next Week – Saraki

Source: thewillnigeria.com

BEVERLY HILLS, March 21, (THEWILL) – Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has revealed that the harmonised version of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) will be laid on the floor of the two chambers of the National Assembly next week.

This was revealed when a team of experts sponsored by the DFID canvassed for the removal of controversial sections of the bill, which according to them gives enormous powers to the petroleum minister.

Speaking at the first National Assembly Business Environment Roundtable in Abuja, Saraki assured that the new bill would be devoid of controversy adding that both chambers would pass the same version.

“The Senate and the House of Representatives are working very closely and as such some of these processes would not be brought down,” Saraki said, in his keynote address.

“As part of this commitment, we would all see next week when we lay down the Petroleum Industry Bill, you will see that the bill we are going to lay in the House is the same we are going to lay in the Senate because that is the first time we are open to our words.”

Leader of the DFID team, Paul Idornigie, argued that for Nigeria to attract investors and become business friendly, there was an urgent need to amend or repeal some of the nation’s laws as well as introduce new ones, listing the PIB as one of such bills.

He observed that there the Federal government needs to collaborate with states to ensure that Nigeria improves in ranking in the World Bank Doing Business Report.

“Nigeria is ranked 169 out of 189 economies in the 2016 World Bank Doing Business Report,” he said.

“Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, is the world’s eighth-largest oil exporter, and almost 90 percent of its export earnings are tied to oil. 60 percent of the population lives in extreme poverty, youth unemployment is close to 80 percent, and on top of that the nation is bedevilled by insurgency, fuel scarcity, fall in revenue due to crash in crude oil prices in the international market, tumbling of the naira against the dollar, epileptic power shortages, among others.

“The powers given to the minister under the PIB are enormous. They created two regulators for upstream and downstream, with members comprising of representatives of Minister of Finance, his counterpart from Petroleum Resources, NUPENG, and PENGASSAN. These are those to be regulated, they are those who are members of the regulator.

“We need to look at this bill to see who are the regulators? How can NUPENG, PENGASSAN represent themselves?” he queried.

Simon Kenny, Head of Economic Growth, DFID Nigeria, declared that the nation should use the present economic situation to set the stage for a post-oil era in which the private sector will steer the ship of the economy while government provides the enabling environment.

He calling for the replacement of ‘import substitution’ with ‘import competitiveness’ in order to help the local industries adding that low prices of oil offers a perfect opportunity for the country to diversify the economy and increase investment.

Chairman, Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), Kyari Bukar, in his speech, revealed that 37 million micro and small medium enterprises exist in Nigeria, contributing 50 percent of GDP and account for 84 percent of all jobs.

THEWILL recalls that the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, had recently told a Joint Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream and Downstream) as well as Gas that the draft PIB was ready and would be presented to the National Assembly soon.

The PIB is the longest serving bill in the National Assembly which was introduced in the sixth Assembly. It has been plagued by different versions as the proposed law was passed by the seventh House of Representatives but didn’t get the nod of the seventh Senate.

Story by David Oputah