NEITI defends N1.5billion 2020 budget

The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) said that it would release its 2017 audit report next week while that of 2018 would be released before the end of the year. Executive Secretary of the agency, Mr. Waziri Adio, made this disclosure at a budget defence with the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) in Abuja. NEITI defends N1.5billion budget.

He said between 1999 and 2016, nine audit reports had been done in the oil and gas sector while seven such reports had been done in the solid minerals and had been released. Adio said the agency had also proposed a total of N1.5 billion for its 2020 operations.

According to him, the proposed sum would be used to cater for its activities and consumables, which included sporting events, publicity, local training, foreign trips, drugs and medicals, as well as monitoring and evaluation, among others. NEITI defends N1.5billion budget.

Giving a breakdown of the proposal, Adio said N828 million was earmarked for personnel cost, N337 million for overhead and N355 million for capital. On the performance of the 2019 budget, Adio said a total of N1.3 billion was appropriated for the agency, out of which a total of N789 million was earmarked for personnel cost, N277 million for overhead and a total of N267 million was for capital expenditure.

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According to him, N557 million was released for personnel, which represents 70.8 per cent, N138 million was released for overhead, which represents 50 per cent and nothing had been released for capital, which represents zero per cent respectively. He informed lawmakers that in 2018, the agency got overhead release for seven out of 12 months and in 2019 only six had been released out of ten months so far spent. NEITI defends N1.5billion budget.

The NEITI boss therefore lamented that the poor release of overhead funds hinders the agency’s performance. He stressed that there was a global framework known as Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI), being implemented in 52 countries across the world, including Nigeria. According to him, Nigeria began implementation in 2004 and by 2007, it was supported by the NIETI Establishment Act, which was passed by the National Assembly and signed into law. He said the major reason was to ensure transparency in the management of oil, gas and mining for the development of the country.

On remittances of revenues, the NEITI boss informed the committee that his agency was interested in how much extracting companies pay and how much was remitted to the Federal Government and make public the audit report.

The Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) had earlier pledged to support the agency in its bid to achieve set objective of effectively policing the nation’s extractive industry. Deputy Chairman, Hon. Preye Oseke (APC, Bayelsa) said the committee would look into the presentation of the agency and act accordingly. He said just like the National Assembly, NEITI was also a watchdog organisation that ensures transparency in the oil sector.

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