Reps Raise Alarm Over 2010 Appropriation For PIB

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The House of Representatives today raised an alarm that the Ministry of Petroleum Resources has already spent a huge percentage of the N7 billion set aside in the 2010 budget for the implementation of the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) when passed into law.

The House said it would not support the expenditure of that nature under any guise when the PIB has not been passed into law by the National Assembly.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Alhaji Goni Musa had told members of the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Downstream in Abuja, that the money was spent on some preliminary activities that needed to be done before the bill is passed.

He said the ministry has so far spent 65 percent of the N740 million released for the activities which according to him, are meant take care of the extant regulations in the oil and gas industry.

According to him, “The process commenced some months ago. For instance, we are carrying out many activities including the review of the current petroleum regulations in order to align them with the international best practices.

“We are also developing new regulation to cover the down stream sub-sector. The law itself will throw out many regulations. So we don’t want to wait until the law is passed before developing regulations.

But Chairman of the Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), Hon. Clever Ikisikpo, said that it sounded incredibly awkward to hear that the ministry has spent such an amount when the bill has not been passed into law.

Ikisikpo said Nigerians are asking questions about the PIB because it is important, adding that it was the committee that reduced the appropriation from N10 billion to N7 billion in the 2010 budget.

“People will begin to ask questions. The tenure of this current assembly is coming to an end. So if the tenure ends without the passage of the PIB, it then means that it is the next assembly that will attend to it.

“Are you going to look for the money for another PIB when you have already spent the money? However you said you are going to submit the document detailing how the money was spent. The committee will be very much interested in knowing how it was spent”, he stressed.

On the issue of local travels and trainings, Musa who represented Diezani Alison-Maduekwe, Minister of Petroleum, explained that training for officials of the ministry is very important because they are operating in a highly specialized industry.

“So we have to keep our staff abreast with what is happening in current technology. We sent many of them abroad for offshore training two months ago so that when they come back they will be better equipped to their job well,” he added.

In his response, the Committee Chairman said such trainings should be extended to members of the committee as well in order to put them at a vantage position in their oversight functions.