The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation Limited is not transparent about the financial gains from fuel subsidy removal, the World Bank has disclosed.
This extends to subsidy arrears that are still being deducted and the impact of subsidy removal on federation revenues, the bank noted. The Washington-based made this call in its Nigeria Development Update, December 2023 edition titled, ‘Turning The Corner (from reforms and renewed hope, to results).
This is the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of Economy, Wale Edun, revealed that the government was ready to scrutinise the revenue flow from the NNPCL.
According to the World Bank, while revenue gains from the exchange rate reforms are visible, more clarity is needed on oil revenues, including the fiscal benefits from the PMS subsidy reforms.
It declared, “nominal oil revenue gains have been evident since June; these are mostly categorised as “exchange rate gains”, suggesting that they are due to the naira depreciation.
“Except for the exchange rate-related increases, however, there is a lack of transparency regarding oil revenues, especially the financial gains of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation from the subsidy removal, the subsidy arrears that are still being deducted, and the impact of this on Federation revenues. It is also unclear why retail petrol prices have not changed much since August, despite fluctuations in the exchange rate and global oil prices.”
The Bretton Woods institution further expanded that gains in net oil revenue of the federation were lower than what they should have been considering what the removal of fuel subsidy should have added to the accounts.
It stated that fuel subsidy cost the federation about N380bn a month, and once removed, the federation account should have recorded an increase in net oil revenues.
It said, “However, most of the gains in the oil revenues in H2 2023, as reported by OAGF, can be attributed to exchange rate gains. Without exchange rate gains, net oil revenue between January and August would have declined by 0.2 of a percentage point of full-year GDP yoy, all materialising in the July–August period.
“In August, additional revenue from 40 per cent profit of Production Sharing Contracts and the interim yearly dividend were reflected in the accounts. However, these were not as high as what the gains from removing the gasoline subsidy should have been. Given that petrol pump prices have not changed in line with market fundamentals (notably exchange rate movements and global oil prices), there is a risk that the implicit fuel subsidy has reemerged, potentially keeping net oil revenues lower than expected.”
The institution further noted that the reform of fuel subsidy should help the NNPCL to settle its arrears and start paying fully for the Federation’s share of costs in joint venture operations, thereby allowing oil production to gradually increase over time.
Also speaking at the presentation of the report, the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Edun noted that the removal of fuel subsidy saved the government’s finances.
He stated that while expectations that subsidy removal should boost the government’s revenue, it was faced with debt funding and a high fiscal deficit.
He said, “In terms of the government’s finances, you have rightly pointed out that following the removal of subsidy, there is an expectation that there would be fiscal dividends and it’s fair to say that without it, government finances will be in total disarray now. However, there is debt funding, pressure on fiscal deficit, and on government finances, and borrowings which have been inherited.
“Our levels of borrowing are being reduced and there is a plan to reduce that fiscal deficit over time. On the revenue side, the first source is oil, and I expect that there will be serious scrutiny on oil revenue and production and insistence on raising oil production and similarly that the revenues are brought into the federation account following the constitution. I think there will be added scrutiny, and I am sure NNPC is getting ready for that.”
Edun further declared that there would be a robust rollout of measures to raise tax revenue soon. He, however, highlighted that tax rates would not be increased but a lot would be done regarding efficiency, digitalisation, and improved collection.
He added that waivers and tax incentives would be scrutinised to revamp it and save leakages, particularly among ministries, departments and agencies.
Subsidy removal and controversies
On May 29, President Bola Tinubu announced the removal of fuel subsidy with, “Subsidy is gone,” to free up foreign exchange earnings.
In his August 1 national address, Tinubu disclosed that the Federal Government had saved about N1tn in two months after the removal of the petrol subsidy freeing up funds for other things in the economy.
He said, “In a little over two months, we have saved over a N1tn that would have been squandered on the unproductive fuel subsidy which only benefitted smugglers and fraudsters.”
According to him, the funds saved from subsidy removal “will now be used more directly and more beneficially for you and your families.”
However, there have been concerns that the dividend of subsidy removal has not trickled down to the average Nigerian.
Recently, a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, alleged that the NNPCL might not be remitting enough dollars to the federation account despite subsidy’s removal.
Speaking during the Bank Directors Summit organised by the Bank Directors Association of Nigeria recently, Sanusi, said, “The exchange rate needs to be stabilised and we have to address the fundamental question, why is there no money coming in?
“Why is the NNPCL not able to bring in dollars? Am sorry this is the question that cost me my job and I will continue asking this question until NNPCL fixes it up or until I die. Where are the dollars? We need to shine a light on the NNPCL. The finance minister cannot tell you because he doesn’t have a monitoring system that reports to him.
“The finance minister can’t tell you how many barrels of petrol we produce and export. It is only the NNPCL that can give those figures. The finance ministry needs to know how much oil we produce daily, how much we sell, and where the money is going. We are no longer paying subsidies so where are the dollars? It was under recovery during the subsidy era and that has been stopped, so where is the money?”
Sanusi noted that the NNPCL was opaque about its dealings, shrouding many of its dealings in secrecy.
NNPCL dollar revenues
Defending the oil company’s finances, the NNPCL’s Chief Financial Officer, Umar Ajiya, who was representing the Group Managing Director, Mele Kyari, disclosed that since the inflow of dollars into the country is tied to oil revenues, the country is facing the consequence of falling oil production, insecurity, and lack of investments in the sector.
He also said the NNPCL had been using its revenue to import refined PMS and service debt. He said, “Just to clarify and let the audience go with a well-balanced information. The inflows of dollars into the country are tied to oil revenues and the oil revenues are driven from oil production.
“The consequence of what we are facing today is a fall in oil production simply because of insecurity and lack of investments. The net dollar accruable from oil operations is what the NNPCL uses to import PMS. The PMS is sold in naira, you can’t sell it in dollars. Consequently, you would find out that the net dollar inflows into the NNPCL coffers are spent on the import of basically PMS and debt service.”
Ajiya stressed that the surplus dollars inflow to the CBN and any other bank in the country can only happen when the country starts producing PMS over its domestic requirement.
According to the CFO, adequate forex inflow can also happen if insecurity is addressed, and such development will attract partners to bring in fresh dollars in the form of investment to oil operations.
He added, “So until such a point where we have excess production over and above what we consume, then we will begin to see much dollar liquidity coming into this country. The whole consumption pattern of most Nigerians is foreign import-dependent and until we come to a position whereby, we begin to consume what we produce and also add value to our raw materials to bring further FX into the country.”
Order CBN to honour Letters of Credit– SINET to Tinubu, NASS
Amidst several hardships facing the Nigerian populace, the Social Integrity Network, (SINET) has urged President Ahmed Bola Tinubu and the leadership of national assembly to compel the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Mr. Olayemi Cardoso, to order and reconsider honouring the forward contracts that are genuinely backed up with proper compliant documents for utilisation against each Letters of Credit (LCs) opened by the commercial banks using the forwards as a hedge.
The group also urged the Federal Government to make further clarification concerning a statement credited to the CBN Governor on issues regarding the alleged and well-publicized revelations of a $2.4 billion forex trading fraud.
SINET recalled that “On February 5, 2024, the governor of CBN made this declaration in both his interactions with Senate committees and his interview on a national television, following the engagement of Deloitte Management Consultant to conduct a forensic investigation where he claimed that the said amount was uncovered.
A statement issued on Monday by SINET national coordinator, Ibrahim Issah, disclosed that “On the contrary, we wish to unequivocally state that these claims lack merit and do not take into account the consequences they will have on businesses, public perception, or the economy of our cherished nation and its implication on forex both at home and abroad.”
According to him, “Without sentiment, the claim is completely falsehood and unacceptable as he, the CBN governor, failed to consider its economic implications. It is pertinent to state that genuine businessmen and women across the country, borrowed Funds from commercial banks, some with interest rates as high as 30% to secure forex from the CBN through their respective commercial banks since CBN does not sell the dollars to individuals directly.
“The same funds have been deposited with CBN for the past one and half years for forwards allocated for which the Apex Bank is now claiming were fraudulent transactions. May we remind Mr. Governor that while the CBN allocated the forwards after collecting the naira for each forward allocated, the commercial banks used these same forward contracts as a hedge and issued Letters of Credit (LCs) to their various customers against their offshore credit lines and also as a sovereign guarantee to their offshore banks which stand unpaid till today as a result of the failure of CBN to honour the various forward contracts.
“May we also remind our CBN Governor that as a result of their failure to honour these contracts, the outstanding foreign loans continue to accrue interest (post-negotiation charges), which the commercial Banks are passing to their customers: the same customers you say do not have a genuine claim.”
The statement further stressed that, “The public would like to ask Mr. Governor the following questions: What will happen to the foreign bank that is expecting their payment to be paid back? What will happen to the businessmen and women who had borrowed Naira from commercial Banks and paid the same into the CBN account for the purchase of forex for over eighteen months? Who will bear the interest charged on borrowed funds locally? Who will bear the charges running against the offshore lines used in establishing Letters of Credit? What will happen to the businesses? What will happen to the employees that are dependent on the survival of the businesses that CBN is trying to kill?
“We call upon the senate president and, in fact, the president and Commander In-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to call the CBN governor to order and reconsider honouring the forward contracts that are genuinely backed up with proper compliant documents for utilisation against each Letters of Credit (LCs) opened by the commercial banks using the forwards as a hedge.
“Let us state categorically that the CBN is killing businesses by cancelling the forward contracts that were sold to them about 18 months ago at the rate of N450/dollar and now selling the same funds to the commercial banks and directing the bank to sell the money at the rate of 1,500/dollar to the same businesses who initially had a forward contract at the rate of N450/dollar.
“May we also remind Mr. Governor, that failure to honour these forward contracts is taking commercial banks longer time to clean the offshore lines already used for establishing Letters of Credit against which shipments have been done and payment made to LC beneficiaries by the offshore banks. The delays of the commercial banks to settle their Forex obligations to their offshore banks is making our country risk to be very high.
“Lastly, the public will like to call on the coordinating minister for the economy, Mr. Wale Edun to engage the CBN regarding this issue of undelivered forward contracts because at present in Nigeria, almost 60% of companies in the manufacturing sector have been closed due to the volatility of Forex in Nigeria in order to avoid the other 40% from also closing down.
“This will go a long way to help the few remaining manufacturing companies still in operation in Nigeria and also encourage the new investors that the president and commander in-chief of the federal republic is trying woo to bring their investments to Nigeria.”
Senate Passes Sen Ashiru’s Bill To Establish National Road Transport Council
The Senate on Tuesday granted first reading to a bill seeking to establish a National Road Transport Council which is to be saddled with the responsibility of regulating the road transport industry and the transport profession in Nigeria.
The bill titled National Road Transportation Council (Establishment) Bill 2024 is sponsored by Deputy Senate Leader Senator Oyelola Ashiru and was introduced to the Senate plenary after the Senators resumed from their 30 day recess.
Further details of the bill fronted by the Kwara South Senator reveals that if signed into law a council board will be established which shall consist of a Board chairman and six members drafted from each geo-political zone of the country.
More insights of the bill sighted by the Sun also states that the board shall be presided by a representative from Ministries of transport, commerce and industry and aviation and they shall not be below the rank of a Director.
As highlighted in the explanatory memorandum of the bill , [b]the functions of the proposed council include; creating an effective regulatory framework on road transport service operators; determining the standard of knowledge and skills required for road transport service operators; encouraging the advancement of education in road transportation; ensuring accessibility of road transport facilities, [/b]channels, and routes; monitoring the performance of the regulated road transport industry; conducting background check on road transport service operators; registering all road transport service providers and determine the fees for such registration; setting guidelines and general policies for road transport service operators; updating the Federal Government on its activities and progress through annual and audited reports; reviewing progress and suggest improvement within the provisions of this Bill and do such other things as are necessary or incidental to the objects of the Council under this Bill or as may be assigned by the Federal Government.
The bill received the nod of the Senators via voice votes presided by the Senate President Godswill Akpabio shortly after it was introduced to the floor of the Red Chambers by the Leader of the Senate, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele.