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EFCC Recovers N13bn Illegal Fuel Subsidy Payments

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) recovered about N13 billion as proceeds from illegal payments made under the subsidy regime between 2017 and 2021, The Tide source stated.
According to the source,this was based on the National inherent risk assessment of money laundering and terrorist financing in the Nigerian extractive sector document obtained from the website of the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit.
“EFCC the agency responsible for the investigation and prosecution of fraudulent subsidies in the oil and gas in Nigeria recovered N12,998,963,178.29 as proceeds of illegal payment made under the subsidy regime between 2017 and 2021”, the report stated in part.
A tabular breakdown showed that approximately N4.67 billion was recovered in 2017, N4.29 billion in 2018, N2.41 billion in 2019, N416.51 million in 2020 and N1.22 billion in 2021.
It was further noted in the report that there were several opportunities for fraudulent activities in the oil and gas sector.
“Opportunities for fraudulent activities exist in the oil and gas sector from extraction to sales of refined products to consumers.
“The absence of reliable equipment to measure the volume of crude oil being extracted makes it impossible to estimate the volume of crude oil extracted and even stolen through oil theft and vandalism.
“Oil theft also occurs in the downstream sector, as petrol pumps are rigged at petrol stations or adulterated.
“Also to be noted is the sale of petroleum products on the ‘black market’, giving rise to petroleum products being sold at exorbitant prices.
“Of concern is the emerging trend of filling station attendants acting as money agents, without appropriate customer due diligence carried out.
“It should be stated, however, that in most cases, the amount sold to an individual is usually not suspicious. However, if left unchecked, this practice could pose a threat to the country”, the report added.
It also noted that there had been diversion of petroleum products to non-designated retail outlets, which is a fraudulent practice that leverages on the fuel subsidy regime.
“Other fraudulent practices include the diversion of petroleum products to non-designated retail outlets to gain undue financial advantage.
“This practice may be intra- state, inter-state and across the borders of Nigeria to neighbouring countries.
“The Joint Border Exercise in August 2019 with operation code-named ‘Exercise Swift Response’ resulted in large number of seizures of trucks and other vehicles used to smuggle refined products outside the country.
“This exercise was coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser. This is also connected to the subsidy regime as the cost of PMS in Nigeria is significantly lower than in neighbouring countries.
“Another fraudulent practice is the smuggling of petroleum products. The NNPC recorded daily Premium Motor Spirit evacuation spikes in various depots across the country, against government projected volumes of daily consumption.
“These spikes led to the reactivation of Operation White II – an inter-agency task team comprising the NNPC, stakeholders and LEAs in May 2021. It was further reported that these volumes were being smuggled out to neighbouring countries like Benin Republic, Cameroun, Niger republic etc., with higher PMS prices compared to Nigeria.
“The OPW II team was mandated to curtail the smuggling, diversion and hoarding of PMS to ensure the Nation’s energy security. Intelligence-driven investigations are ongoing”, it stated.
In its biannual report known as Africa’s Pulse, which was released in April last year, the World Bank said increasing fuel subsidy put the Nigerian economy at a high risk as subsidy payments could significantly impact public finance and pose debt sustainability concerns.
In 2021, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation said fuel subsidy gulped N1.43tn, although there was no record for under-recovery in January.
The National Assembly approved N4tn as fuel subsidy bill for 2022, which was an increase of 179.72 per cent over the previous year’s subsidy bill.
However, experts have warned the Federal Government that the N4tn fuel subsidy bill would adversely affect the country’s economy.

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Enugu To Resume Coal Mining Operations December

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In a bid to restore its prominence as the leading coal mining state in the former Eastern Region of Nigeria, the Enugu State Government has issued December as deadline for the commencement of mining operations.
The decision came after the meeting of the government representatives and other mining stakeholders in the state, over the weekend.
In a communique issued at the end of a meeting between the state’s Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee (MIREMCO) and mineral title holders in the state, the parties resolved to initiate further stakeholders engagement to identify additional challenges in the sector and recommend solutions which would help foster more inclusive and effective mining in the state.
The Chairman of MIREMCO and Special Adviser to the Enugu State Governor on Solid Minerals, Engr. Samuel Okoro, said the communique  emphasised the need to sensitise host communities on the objectives of MIREMCO and how they could assist in ensuring smooth business operations through cooperation between them and the miners, thereby reducing disruptions.
“To uphold transparency and  accountability and also ensure that all mineral title holders in the state comply with the regulatory requirements, it was agreed that the committee would make a demand through the Mining Cadastre Office (MCO) for the directories of all mineral titles in Enugu State.
“In its efforts to eradicate mineral titles in activeness and stimulate economic growth in the sector, the committee reiterated its commitment to ensuring that all the titles became operational before the end of 2024.
“The tilte holders are urged to commence operations promptly, with MIREMCO pledging to providing support and addressing any challenges that may arise to facilitate this process.
“The tilte holders are urged to commence operations promptly, with MIREMCO pledging to providing support and addressing any challenges that may arise to facilitate this process”, Okoro said.
He  thanked the Governor of the state, Dr.  Peter Mbah, and the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Dele Alake, for giving them the opportunity to make their impact in the sector, promising to ensure full compliance with all relevant regulations and standards.
“We are grateful to the Governor of Enugu State, Dr. Peter Mbah, and the leadership of the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development, headed by the Honourable Minister, Dr. Dele Alake.
“We commend his visionary leadership and dedication to the ministry, and we pledge our commitment to ensuring that his leadership leaves an excellent legacy for the sector”, Okoro said.
He also urged the mineral title holders to do their best and make a difference, stressing that the committee stands ready to collaborate closely with them to achieve maximum results.
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Africa To Empower Marginalised Communities Through Natural Resources

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The Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Dele Alake, says the African is determined to empower its marginalised communities through its natural resources.
Alake described Africa as endowed with natural resources, capable of driving its sustainable economic growth, particularly with the critical minerals needed for the global energy transition.
He stated this yesterday in Abuja at a press briefing against the backdrop of the forthcoming 2024 African Natural Resources & Energy Investment Summit (AFNIS).
He said equitable distribution of resources and targeted investments in local communities were key to empowering those historically underserved.
Alake said the move would reduce inequality, promote social stability, and ensure inclusive growth across the continent.
“By channeling investments into rural areas and marginalised communities, we can create opportunities for sustainable livelihoods, improve access to essential services, and foster an environment, where every individual has the chance to thrive”, he stated.
According to him, the three-day summit,  being hosted by Nigeria from July 16th would be ending on Thursday, July 18th and is aimed at exploring strategies for utilising fossil fuel revenues to fund Africa’s transition to a greener future.
“AFNIS 2024 is not merely a gathering of minds, but a convergence of visionaries committed to transforming Africa’s natural resource landscape.
“Our discussions and decisions will resonate across the continent, influencing policies, shaping industries, and setting the course for a sustainable future”,  he said.
The Minister said the summit was also aimed at bolstering the continent’s efforts toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), while fostering the development of cleaner, more accessible, and reliable energy sources.
He stated that the summit will provide a platform for government officials, the private sector and industry experts from across the continent to chart ways for the sustainable development of its natural resources.
He further said the 2024 theme, “Natural Resources for Economic Development”, underscored the significant role that Africa’s natural resources play in driving economic prosperity.
Alake continued that the economic growth of the region would have multiplier effects, including alleviating poverty and creating job opportunities for its people.
“By fostering economic growth, we can alleviate poverty, create job opportunities and ensure prosperity for small businesses and all .
“The responsible exploitation of our resources will generate revenues that can be reinvested into our economies, enhancing infrastructure, healthcare, and education.
“This cycle of growth will elevate the living standards of our people and position Africa as a formidable player in the global economy”, he said.
The Minister also said the summit would deliberate on leveraging Africa’s natural resources to address crucial issues such as quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation.
He added that other issues to tackle also include provision of affordable and clean energy, and proactive climate action.
Alake explained that the summit would be the third edition and would be hosted in partnership with Core International Mining Company.
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SMEs, Major Player In Most Economies – Traditional Ruler 

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The Eze Oha Evo III of Evo Kingdom, HM King Leslie N. Eke, has said Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are major players in most economies, particularly in developing countries.
King Eke, who is the Eze Gbakagbaka of Evo Kingdom, said this while chatting  with newsmen at his palace in Woji in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Eke recalled that SMEs account for the majority of businesses worldwide and are important contributors to job creation and global economic development.
According to him, SMEs represent about 90 percent of businesses and more than 50 percent of employment worldwide, which, he said, should form part of the reasons government at all levels are meant to give it the required attention.
“SMEs contribute up to 40 percent of national income in emerging economies. These numbers are significantly higher when informal SMEs are included”, he said.
He noted that access to finance has been a key constraint to SMEs growth,  hence the need by concerned authorities to up their games.
In his words, “access to finance should rank  the second most cited obstacle facing SMEs growth .
“SMEs are less likely to be able to obtain bank loans than large firms. They rely on internal funds, or cash from friends and family, to launch and initially run their enterprises”, he said.
He also revealed that SMEs growth will go a long way in reviving the ailing economic sector, if all players play in accordance with the rule, doing the needful to support the enterprises.
King Onunwor
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