Lawmakers accuse IOCs of evading NIMASA levies

The House of Representatives yesterday mandated its Committee on Maritime Safety, Administration and Education to investigate allegations of evasion of levies due to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) by international oil companies (IOCs) in the course of lifting the nation’s crude oil and imported petroleum products.

The committee is also to investigate the non-remittance and under-remittance of 3% levy, 2% surcharge and other revenues due and collectible by the agency.

The alleged non-remitted levy and surcharge which is in excess of $10 billion is over a period of eight years.

The House committee is also to obtain inputs from maritime stakeholders on the matter for the purpose of recovery and improvement of operational efficiency, Besides these, the committee will consider and track various implementations and compliance by both NIMASA and various stakeholders with the NIMASA Act of 2007 and the Cabotage Act of 2003, and other related matters, and report back to the house within six weeks for further legislative action.

The resolutions of the House were sequel to the passage of a motion titled “Call for Investigation of Revenue Leakages and Operational Deficiencies in the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA)” sponsored by a member, Hon. Chukwudi Jones Onyereri.

The lawmaker while moving the motion noted that NIMASA has the responsibility of ensuring cleaner, and safer shipping, capacity building and superintending the maritime safety, administration and security in Nigeria.

“Over the years, NIMASA has been very ineffective in the execution of its mandate, a situation that has resulted in financial leakages, maritime insecurity and operational decline of the agency.

“Cases of revenue losses arising from leakages in 3% levy on wet and dry cargoes, 2% surcharge and other revenue sources conservatively put at $10 billion, over a period of 8 years.

“Also aware that export lifting of crude oil by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and IOC’s which are based on the Free on Board (FOB) instead of Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) charges are carried out without interface with NIMASA for the purpose of enforcing the payments of the 3% levy,” he said.

Onyereri expressed concerned about unauthorized midstream discharge of cargoes by IOC’s and oil servicing companies, which enables the evasion of the payment of levies to thrive, thereby depriving the country of revenues.

Onyereri said the benchmark approach to the 3% levy payment for both dry and wet cargoes had further contributed to under-billing of the 3% levy due to lack of disclosure of the actual earnings by shipping companies;

“The Cabotage Act of 2003 aimed at promoting indigenous participation in coastal trade is being threatened by the activities of vessels on temporary importation license.

“The 2% Cabotage surcharge and cabotage waiver fees meant to fund the Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) for indigenous capacity building are being evaded by the IOC’s and other major foreign shipping companies operating in the country,” he said.

The lawmaker expressed concern that the nefarious activities of oil drilling and dredging companies have escaped compliance due to frivolous waivers granted them by NIMASA, which have led to willful default, neglect and outright revenue evasion.

“Lack of disclosure by NIMASA of the marine spread of the IOC’s contracts with their oil servicing contractors also contributed to the revenue leakages,” he said.

The motion was supported by members when the Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara called for a voice vote.

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