LAGOS – The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), has implored Nigerians to support Federal Government’s fuel squeeze to border towns in order to bail out the country from the claws of economic monsters.
The oil workers, in a communiqué issued at the end of its National Executive Council Meeting in Abuja, commended the efforts of the federal government through ‘Operation White’ to nip in the bud the recurring cases of smuggling of fuel across the border towns of the country
“Nigeria has been said to be losing N2 billion to fuel smuggling, with attendant severe implications to the economy, which is currently gasping for survival. The NEC-in-Session believes that the stringent approach the federal government employed by severing supply of fuel to the border towns was a square peg in a square hole and should be supported by all meaningful Nigerians,’’ the communiqué said
The oil workers commended the courage of the National Assembly to resolve the challenges that have characterised the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) in the past.
They said the non-passage of the PIB has denied Nigeria lots of benefits that could have accrued to it from the hydro-carbon industry, adding that Nigeria has lost so much revenue that could have added to the government coffers as existing investments are stalled and new investments are taken outside the shores of the land where returns are guaranteed.
The communiqué quoted the NEC-in-session as advocating the need for the federal government to halt the uncertainty concerning the conclusion of the process by signing the PIGB into law first and completing the other aspects of the bill for meaningful progress in the industry.
The oil workers noted with cautious optimism, the recent signing into law of the amended Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Amendment Act, which they maintain translates to the country receiving its fair, rightful and equitable share of income from the envisaged increase in oil and gas revenue.
According to the communiqué, this will in turn lead to infrastructural growth and creation of more jobs if the proceeds accruing from it are judiciously used, as the country has suffered from the non-review of this Act since its enactment approximately 20 years ago.
“The NEC-in-Session therefore calls for a holistic implementation and strict adherence to the contents of the Act for our collective benefit. On the other hand, the NEC-in-Session also calls on the Federal Government to work out incentives including waivers for organizations and companies who despite the review of the PSC Act, continue to invest in our deep water, especially new investments,’’ the communique said.
The oil workers reiterated the need for the Federal Government to bring back the nation’s refineries and create enabling environment for investment in the refining business sector to thrive.
They pledged to continue to lend her voice to issues that would put the nation’s oil and gas sector in good shape to enable it compete favourably with its peers in other parts of the world.
They also advocated the need for the establishment of a special stakeholders’ committee comprising of the Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment and the Labour unions to review the local content policy.
The oil workers commended the federal government for the review of the guidelines and procedure of staff release in the Nigerian oil and gas industry. They also urged the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to follow through with the implementation and compliance of oil and gas companies to the new regulation without compromise, with a view to protecting the jobs of Nigerians and strengthen the national manpower skill base in the industry.
The NEC-in-Session supported the House of Representatives plan to investigate the implementation of local content involvement in the Nation’s oil and gas Sector as such gesture will enable the country and stakeholders in the oil industry determine the level of compliance with the Nigerian Oil and Gas Content Development Act.
“The NEC-in-Session also calls on the Federal Government to exert appropriate sanction(s) against any defaulting employer in order to demonstrate the sanctity of the law and the need to obey same religiously. Additionally, the NEC-in-Session advises that the issue bordering on Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act, should not be limited to the name or material components of jobs alone but should be on increasing the number of Nigerian employees and transfer of knowledge, especially those in top Management positions,’’ the communiqué added.
The NEC-in-Session fears the anticipated effects of the recently passed Financial Bill by the Senate which increased Value Added Tax (VAT) up to 7.5 percent.
The workers noted that multiple taxation includes both incidences of double taxation whereby the same asset or event is taxed multiple times by different jurisdictions and multiplicity of small, nuisance taxes, adding that the development creates a hostile business environment in any economy, as there are several taxes collected by the federal, state and local governments in Nigeria.
‘’The NEC-in-Session notes that tax related issues are responsible for the untimely closure of several businesses in Nigeria because they have significant cost implications on businesses and create uncertainty for intending investors. The NEC-in- Session implores the Government to come up with uniform tax policy that will favour the development of businesses in Nigeria and drive down cost of production,’’
They oil workers expressed disgusts over the dilapidated roads in Nigeria with attendant loss of lives. They implored governments at all levels, to embark on urgent repair of roads in their domains to bring to an end the avoidable loss of lives and properties due to accidents on our roads.