By rasheedakinshola • 12th Mar 2019 • 12 views • 0 comments

LAGOS – Organised Private Sector (OPS) under the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) is currently worried over the excessive taxation imposed on oil and gas investors in the country.

Specifically, the LCCI expressed discontent over a current proposal by the Nigerian Port Authority to impose $1 levy on every barrel of oil export. 

Its president, Babatunde Ruwase, disclosed that there are also new levies being proposed under the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) amendment bill and the Maritime University amendment bill, the chamber said and implored the presidency to intervene with a view to reducing the burden of excessive taxation on oil and gas investors in the country. 

‘’We also seek protection for the manufacturers of gas cylinders to promote industrialisation, self-reliance and conservation of foreign exchange.  We already have huge capacity to meet local cylinder demands, ’he added.

He emphasised urgent need by the Federal Government to improve the regulatory environment in oil and gas industry, saying the development will unlock huge foreign direct investment in the sector, especially in gas and deep-water exploration.

Ruwase, who expressed regrets that commensurable progress has not been made on the Petroleum Industry Bill, said there was need for a more expeditious consideration to be given to the bill through appropriate collaborative actions with the national assembly.

He said crude oil export is Nigeria’s biggest foreign exchange earner; adding that ironically, the biggest foreign exchange expenditure is also on the importation of petroleum products. 

According to him, increases in crude oil price benefits the Nigerian economy with regards to foreign exchange earnings, but penalises the economy in terms of the huge foreign exchange commitment to importation of refined petroleum products and high energy cost.

He advocated the need for the Federal Government to prioritise local refining of petroleum products to ease pressure on the nation’s reserves.

Ruwase advised that pipelines should also be used to transport petroleum products from the ports to the depots around the country. 

He commended the efforts of the Federal Government in riding Apapa Port of insanity, stressing that the measure needs to be decisive, consistent and sustainable. We need to restore orders and sanity to the Lagos port and access to the port.

‘’It is regrettable that Lagos port which account for 70 per cent of Nigeria Custom’s revenue have to suffer the kind of deterioration and challenges that is currently exposed to.

‘’We also plead that urgent measures be taken to restore the use of rail for the evacuation of cargo from the Lagos ports. It is worthy of note that containers are now being evacuated by the Nigerian Railway Corporation, but the process has been reduced to two or three trips per day, with a maximum of 80 containers. 

He commended the efforts by government to improve liquidity in the power supply chain, the drastic reduction in the debt owed to gas suppliers and the generating companies, improvement in power generation, and the enhancement of carrying capacity of the transmission grid. 

He also said what the Minister of Power, Babatunde Fashola, is doing is promoting alternative models to fix the problem at the distribution end.

He regretted that the distribution end is still grappling with numerous challenges which limit the capacity to deliver power to end users, even as he said that power situation continues to pose challenges to business operators.

‘’There are complaints across all sectors about high energy costs especially high expenditure on diesel. The situation has worsened with the increase in global crude oil price.   Many businesses spend as much as 20-30% of their total operating cost on generating power.  We propose that policies and incentives be put in place to encourage decentralisation and more off grid solutions.

He said the Federal Government should encourage and facilitate more off grid power generation for improved access to power, while the Aba and Sura market power initiatives should be widely replicated across the country.

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