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FG aims to pass amended PIB-Kachikwu

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Nigeria will amend its long-awaited petroleum industry bill (PIB) and may remove the taxation element to speed its passage, the country’s new petroleum minister said on Wednesday.

Nigeria’s oil bill has been in the works for a decade. It is meant to change everything from taxes to overhauling the NNPC, environmental rules and revenue sharing, but its comprehensive nature has caused disputes between lawmakers.

“There is a need to look at the PIB as it was submitted to the sixth assembly and try and tinker with that a bit,” Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu said on Wednesday after being appointed petroleum minister, or junior oil minister.

“There are all kinds of issues … one of those is whether we need to yank out the fiscal terms and develop them into a different law relying on existing fiscal laws and amend those,” he said.

Kachikwu, who is also head of the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), was appointed as President Muhammadu Buhari unveiled his long-awaited cabinet. Kachikwu said he would also remain head of NNPC “for a while”.

He said the government was also looking at fuel subsidies, a heavy burden on the cash-strapped west African nation as it must import the bulk of its gasoline needs owing to a dilapidated refining system.

Kachikwu said the government was still studying what actual gasoline consumption was and said it would probably be revised lower to around 35 million litres per day, from the current estimate of 40 million litres per day.

Kachikwu is keen to scrap the subsidies. However, President Buhari is disinclined as he feels the subsidy system must be properly analysed first in order to see whether it can be kept to help the average Nigerian, who hitherto has benefitted little from the country’s immense oil wealth.