The chairman of the Nigeria Extractive Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Ledum Mitee has appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan to consider increased funding for the body so that it could continue to discharge its duties in line with the provisions of the law that set it up.
He was speaking to State House correspondents on Monday after meeting President Jonathan in company of NEITI’s board and management members.
According to him, the reduction of the annual budgetary allocations of NEITI by as much as 50 percent since 2011 has continued to pose a threat to its operations which unfortunately keep expanding.
“Our main challenge remains that of acute under-funding. Over the years, NEITI’s budgetary provisions have continued to dwindle whilst its activities remain on steady expansion and the situation has worsened to the extent that it now threatens the agency’s continued performance of its core functions.
“What we have tried to identify is that between 2011 and 2013, there has been some 50 percent reduction in our budgetary allocation which we thought was threatening the smooth operation of our work,” he noted.
Mitee said in spite of the inadequate funding, NEITI will remain committed to the transformation agenda that according to him, “centers on due process in the extractive sector that ultimately impacts other sectors of the economy; limiting waste, reduction of corruption and increasing government’s revenue”.
He said through the work of NEITI, the citizens now have access to credible information. The effort, he noted further recently yielded positive fruit as NEITI was adjudged the best EITI implementing country in the world by the global body, Extractive Industries Transparency International (EITI).
“NEITI has recorded some significant achievements: the four cycles of audits which have been conducted have revealed a potential revenue loss to the federation account of about $9.8 billion from under-assessments and under-payments of taxes, process manipulation and poor interpretation of agreements between government and companies.
“Through collaboration with relevant agencies working under the aegis of the inter-Ministerial Tasks Team, the sum of $2 billion has so far been actually recovered from additional assessments, he said.
The NEITI chairman said absence of reliable baseline information and data on the actual quantity of crude either lost through theft, bunkering or pipeline vandalisation remain a major challenge.
Therefore, “NEITI wishes to call for urgent Presidential intervention on the issue of proper metering regime which has always been a recurring recommendation of our audits,” he said.