NEITI to hand over 77 oil companies owing FG N2.659trn to EFCC

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The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has said it will hand over information about 77 oil and gas companies that owe N2.659 trillion of unpaid taxes to the federal government.

Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, Executive Secretary of NEITI, disclosed this while briefing journalists on the 2019 oil and gas industry audit report and Solid Mineral Industry audit report in Abuja on Tuesday.

He said 77 oil and gas companies operating in Nigeria owe the federal government $6.48 billion, an equivalent of N2.659 trillion, noting that NEITI would provide “all necessary information and data to sister agencies saddled with the responsibilities of recovering the debts into government coffers,” adding that the information will be shared with anti-corruption agencies.

According to Mr. Orji, the debts identified in the report arose from the failure of the companies to remit petroleum profit tax, company income tax, education tax, value-added tax, withholding tax, royalty, and concession on rentals to the federation account.

He further explained that the companies owed $143.99 million as petroleum profit taxes, $1.089 billion as company income taxes, and $201.69 million as education tax, NAN reported.

Others included $18.46 million and £972,000 as VAT; $23.91 million and £997,000 as withholding tax; $4.357 billion as royalty oil and $292.44 million as royalty gas. Also, $270.187 million and $41.86 million were unremitted gas flare penalties and concession rentals, respectively.

The NEITI boss further noted that the disclosure was important and timely given the government’s search for revenues to address epileptic power supply, bad roads, falling education system, insurgency, and youth unemployment.

Mr Orji added that NEITI was determined to help the government recover the money from the 77 companies.

“A comparative analysis of what this huge sum of N2.65 trillion can contribute to economic development shows that it could have covered the entire capital budget of the federal government in 2020 or even used to service the federal government’s debt of $2.68 billion in 2020,” he stated.

“In 2021, if the money is recovered, the N2.659 trillion could fund about 46 per cent of Nigeria’s 2021 budget deficit of N5.6 trillion and is even higher than the entire projected oil revenue for 2021.