The presidency has promised to submit the long-awaited Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) to the National Assembly in two or three weeks, sources have said at the weekend.
The presidency also assured that the oil reform bill would be out as soon as possible to boost output and attract foreign investment into the sector.
Passage of the PIB, which has taken two decades in the making, has become imperative this year as low oil prices and a shift towards renewable energy have made competition tougher to attract investment from international oil majors.
Fiscal uncertainty has delayed a decision on a multi-billion dollar expansion by Royal Dutch Shell and its partners, while Chevron, Total and ExxonMobil are selling various assets in the country.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who spoke during a webinar, said the oil bill would be transmitted to the parliament in the three weeks and will be quickly passed because there are already agreements over a number of key issues in the bill between the executive and legislative arms of government.
He said that the PIB will go to parliament and the presidency hoped to get it back as soon as possible.
“I think we have had all sorts of committing to time …in terms of when it will come back from parliament but everybody is excited about getting this done.
“So, we expect that we should get the PIB into parliament I think within the next couple of weeks maximum I think either two or three weeks; it should be in parliament.
“I don’t think it should take too long for it to be passed because there is already a lot of legislative and executive agreement about many of the key issues and the rest.
“I don’t think we should have too many difficulties with the provisions. So, we expect that it will go back for a few changes and all of that and then we should expect that it should come back as quickly as possible; so it’s looking quite good in terms of time.”
Osinbajo also said salary reduction could not be carried out with executive fiat as there are laid down procedures for such.
He said salary adjustments are made subject to the recommendation of the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).
The executive arm could not recommend salary cut because it is done on the recommendation of the RMAFC.
The vice president added that voluntary salary cuts might be done as the House of Representatives has done, stressing that to do so in any meaningful way and effectively, ‘’you have to go through the RMAFC to do so’’.
On the importance of the PIB
Just last week, Mallam Mele Kyari, the group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said there is a need for Nigeria to act fast and address the loss of foreign investors’ confidence in the country’s oil and gas industry.
Kyari noted that the uncertainty in the industry created by the long delay in the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill had led to a number of divestments from the country in the recent past.
He lamented that the absence of a stable fiscal environment was inhibiting the growth of the industry, especially the upstream sector.
The NNPC boss said these while playing host to members of the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) who were on an oversight visit to the corporation recently.