The Senate Finance Committee, in its attempt to recover and increase revenue to cover recurring budget shortfalls, has directed the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) to prevent all fraudulent international oil companies from withdrawing crude oil from Nigeria.
Companies were asked to pay the required tax to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
Giving the directive when Gbenga Komolafe, the Director General of the NUPRC Commission, the successor of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) under the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) appeared in an interactive session with the committee Senate on the loss of revenue in the maritime sector,
Senate Finance Committee Chairman, Senator Solomon Adeola (APC, Lagos West) said the committee’s preliminary findings indicate the need for serious investigations into all foreign companies extracting oil. Nigerian crude with respect to their compliance with tax obligations under the applicable laws of the country.
“The committee directs your commission to restrain all companies from extracting crude oil from Nigeria until they present proof of payment of tax as required by law. Alternatively, companies can make a down payment based on estimates to continue extracting Nigerian crude oil pending when a proper reconciliation is done on their tax debts over the last ten years of operation,” said the Senator Adeola.
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The chairman of the committee revealed that just recently in 2020, an audit of just one such foreign company known as TeeKay Group with 14 oil tankers paid approximately $10 million in tax debts to FIRS for an overdue investigation of five years, adding that at least more than 100 such entities have extracted crude oil in Nigeria without paying a dime in taxes.
“Now the NUPRC, unlike the way the defunct DPR operated, must ensure that any company that lifts crude oil must have a tax clearance from the FIRS. We are going to investigate about 100 companies that lift our crude oil without paying of taxes as there is no record of such payment with the FIRS. We must recover all our income from this source,” Senator Adeola reiterated.
Senator Adeola said the committee does not rule out the existence of a cartel that could be behind this huge dollar tax evasion, stressing that at this point there should be collaboration and synergy between maritime agencies like the Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA. Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Nigeria Navy, NUPRC, NNPC and FIRS on the issue of fiscal revenue from the maritime sector.
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