The International Monetary Fund, IMF, has raised it voice in favour of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, saying, it “would boost investment, government revenue, and fiscal transparency.”
The commendation comes in spite of varied criticisms by oil majors and other interest groups against some of the fiscal propositions in the bill, and the first of international endorsement for Nigeria’s economic reforms, in which oil and gas is the bedrock.
According to the organisation’s Public Information Notice, PIN, released on March 28, the organisation also called for early passage of the bill saying, “Directors welcomed reforms underway in the energy sector, and looked forward to an early passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill.”
Acording to the IMF said its appraisal followed the conclusion of consultations between it’s Executive Board and Nigeria under the 2012 Article IV, on February 6, 2013.
The PIB is one of Nigeria’s most important pieces of legislation, which proposes massive reforms in the petroleum industry. As such, the IMF pass mark comes at a time the Bill is going through critical appraisals under public hearings in the lower house of the National Assembly.
Commendation counterweighs IOCs’ criticisms
The IMF’s endorsement analysts believe will provide a counterweight to the trenchant criticism coming mainly from the international oil companies, IOCs regarding the Bill.
Although the fate of the Bill rests with the legislators, the IMF’s remarks is expected to present an important international perspective on the Bill for the benefit of the lawmakers who are daily fed with disparaging remarks on the document.
Surprisingly, the IMF’s endorsement, which is yet to be publicised, is a welcome development, especially as the global agency is constantly criticised for its “conditionalities” in saving developing countries, including Nigeria, from economic woes.
At the recently concluded Offshore Technology Conference, OTC in Houston Texas, USA, the lawmakers who attended the conference like the IMF, agreed that the bill will institute greater transparency in the system and maximise government’s revenues.
Speaking on behalf of their colleagues, Emmanuel Paulker, a senator and committee chair on Upstream, and his junior counterpart, Samson Osagie, deputy committee chair on PIB, reiterated the commitment of the National Assembly to passing the bill before year end.
They maintained that unlike its predecessor, the new bill will not suffer from undue political manipulations, but will protect national interest.
The IOCs have continued to insist that the passage of the Bill will force operating companies to exit Nigeria for countries with more generous fiscal terms, but the legislators gave the assurance that the fiscal regime will not be too harsh as to drive away existing or prospective investors.