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NITEL, refineries to be sold soon, BPE says

By The Rainbow
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With the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) sold, the Federal Government will soon put the former national telecoms carrier, Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) and the nation's four refineries up for sale.

For the refineries, they will have to wait only till the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) currently in the National Assembly.

The Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises, Benjamin Dikki, in a key note address  at 'The Nigeria Investors' Summit' in New York, United States of America, on Monday, identified the telecommunications, transportation, housing, banking, tourism and petroleum as sectors where the next tranche of investment opportunities have already been identified.

The BPE boss, according to a statement by the Head of Public Communications at the privatization agency, Mr. Chigbo Anichebe, said that the network of oil and gas pipelines would also be available for concessioning.

Diki said NITEL would be sold to interested private investors along with its frequencies through a guided liquidation process.

Several previous attempts by government to privatise NITEL failed, as the bid exercises were often manipulated by their managers to satisfy vested interests.

In the transport sector, he said several investment opportunities would become available with the implementation of the provisions of the Railway Bill, National Inland Waterways Bill, Ports and Harbour Bill, and National Transport Commission Bill, the drafts of which were ready and would soon be sent to the National Assembly for consideration and passage into law.

The BPE boss said the privatisation agency was currently collaborating with the relevant parties to review the policies, legal and regulatory frameworks in the housing sector to make it attractive to interested private investors.

The BPE director told the prospective investors at the forum that the next line of investment opportunities would come from the Abuja Commodities and Stock Exchange, where government has concluded plans to harness the warehouses and silos across the country and link them to the various trading platforms for Warehouse Receipt Trading system.

'Once we make prices and buyers predictable through the activities of the trading platforms, we would have a mega boom in the making in that sector,' he said.

Mr Dikki said the planned reform in the Development Finance Institutions, DFIs, would soon commence with the privatization of the Bank of Industry, BOI, and Bank of Agriculture, BOA, adding that the reforms in the tourism sector have already begun with the review of the policy, legal and regulatory frameworks to help attract private capital into the sector.

He urged investors interested in the oil and gas sector to be prepared to take advantage of the investment opportunities that would open up when the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which is currently before the National Assembly, is passed. He said there would be several opportunities with the planned privatization of the refineries, and the concession of the network of oil and gas pipelines systems across the country.

On the recent privatization of the 18 Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) successor companies, he said the over $3billion, which will accrue to the Federal Government as proceeds from the various transactions, is biggest ever in global privatization transaction history.

'The Federal Government has been consistent in its policy to open up its economy and create the enabling environment for the private sector to thrive,' he noted.