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Nigerian central bank urges parliament to fasttrack oil reform bill


Nigeria's central bank Friday said the long-delayed Petroleum Industry Bill, or PIB, needed to be passed by parliament quickly so as to ensure complete reform of the country's oil sector and plug revenue leakages.

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The bank's spokesman Ugochukwu Okoroafor, said in a statement that the call was made following the bank's recent disclosure that state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. owed it nearly $50 billion in oil export revenues.

"It is natural for the CBN [central bank] to be concerned about the low level of accretion to [foreign] reserves and excess crude account, inspite of strong international oil prices, especially as Nigeria's performance is compared with other oil producing economies," said Okoroafor.

"This underscores the need to urgently pass a Petroleum Industry Bill that addresses fiscal terms and structure of the NNPC," the spokesman said.

Okoroafor said that the central bank was also seeking an urgent review of the fiscal terms in sharing of oil revenues between Nigeria and its foreign oil partners, as well as improving "governance and transparency in the official oil sector."

To this end, he said the bank backs moves to audit the revenues earned by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp., and also the government decision to examine the sources of revenue leakages.

The central bank had written to both President Goodluck Jonathan and the parliament accusing NNPC of not remitting $49.8 billion of oil export revenues into the federation account, which represented 76% of Nigeria's total crude oil export revenue earned over January 2012-July 2013, Platts has reported.

According to the central bank, Nigeria's oil exports over January 2012-July 2013 totaled 594 million barrels and were valued at $65.3 billion.

NNPC had since denied the claim saying that the amount in question had been paid into accounts managed by other government agencies.

--Edited by Haripriya Banerjee,