Senate passes harmonized PIB amidst protests

The Senate on Thursday passed the harmonized Petroleum Industry Bill which was produced by a conference committee of both chambers of the National Assembly last week.

The harmonized version of the PIB was submitted for consideration by the federal lawmakers on Thursday at the plenary.

Prior to the approval of the proposed legislation through voice votes, senators from the South-South geopolitical zone protested against the proposed three percent equity share for the oil host communities.

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, however, prevailed on Senator Seriake Dickson to back down on his threat to lead his colleagues to stage a walkout.

An investigation conducted by our correspondent on Wednesday had revealed that both chambers of the National Assembly might have agreed to approve three percent as equity share for the oil host communities in the country.

A member of the conference committee had told our correspondent in confidence on Wednesday that the agreement was reached after a heated debate.

He had said, “The National Assembly may stick with the 3 percent equity share for the host communities when the Petroleum Industry Bill is eventually laid and discussed on the floor of both chambers tomorrow (Thursday).

“You will recall that when both chambers of the National Assembly deliberated on the PIB report, the House of Representatives approved five percent while the Senate gave three percent.

“This differential warranted both chambers to set up harmonization committee, which would submit its report on Thursday.

“Our committee adopted the Senate recommendation of three percent for the host communities.”

It would be recalled that the Senate had argued during the consideration of the report, that the three percent amounted to half a billion dollars.

Explaining why the five percent was reduced to three percent shortly after the plenary, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), Senator Sabo Mohammed Nakudu had explained that the earlier percentage which was 2.5 was increased to five percent.

He had added that it was reduced after the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kyari explained that five percent was a huge amount of money.

He had said that “the three percent amounts to half a billion dollars.”

He had added that the enabling environment needed to be created to attract investors because fossil oil was fast going out of fashion.

Also, the Senate spokesperson, Senator Ajibola Bashiru had said, “On the three percent that was approved for the upstream operating expenditure, from the projection made by the NNPC GMD, who briefed us, it will amount to $502.8m for the host community development fund.

“That is a huge amount of money that we believe the host community will definitely benefit from.

“So, the three percent operating expenditure will annually amount to $502.83m.

“The initial projection was 2.5 percent and it was increased to 3 percent. The caveat is that we can always amend the bill as time goes on.”

Source: PUNCH Newspaper

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