Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on Wednesday said the cash call indebtedness of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation put at over $6bn was a big problem to the nation’s economic health.

Saraki stated this at a public hearing on the need for effective implementation of the Joint Venture cash call obligations by the NNPC in accordance with the Appropriation Act as passed by the National Assembly.

“At a period of disturbing and increased pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta region, the current cash call indebtedness standing at over $6bn is a big problem starring at our economic health,” he said.

The Senate president explained that the 2013 Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative report submitted on June 15, 2016, clearly showed that $12.9bn was not remitted to the Federation Account between 2005 and 2013 by the NNPC.

He noted that the development actually doubled the corporation’s debt, which the Senate was prepared to investigate.

Saraki said, “Most oil producing countries that started exploration at about the same period as we did like Norway, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Malaysia and the UAE now have efficient and reliable infrastructure with sustainable industrial growth.

“It is my delight to declare open this public hearing by the Senate joint committee on Gas, Finance, Appropriation and Petroleum Resources (Upstream), which has the onerous task of unravelling the operations of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Joint Venture cash call obligation.

“As part of our legislative agenda in the 8th Senate, we set among others, a mandate to block economic leakages, and improve on our constitutional powers of investigating Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government, with a view to exposing corruption, inefficiency and waste in the conduct of government business.”

He explained that the Senate, as a responsible arm of government with the hopes of millions of Nigerians resting on its shoulders, was disturbed by the frequent distortions that kept coming out of the oil and gas industry.

Saraki stated, “Despite the fact that the NNPC has a larger amount of the proceeds from the joint ventures, it worries the parliament to know that it has consistently been defaulting in payment of its own counterpart funding of projects.

“There is no doubt also that there is still a lack of clarity in the current financial regimes, royalties and taxes in the oil and gas industry. The NNPC is expected to lead in public disclosure of financial dealings earned and its expended revenues.”

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