The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, Monday, lamented the delay in the consideration of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, by the National Assembly, saying the delay is negatively affecting Nigeria's competitiveness, making the country vulnerable and hindering the growth and transformation of the economy.
The delay in the consideration of the PIB is as a result of mounting opposition by Northern senators and international oil companies, who are kicking against certain provisions of the Bill.
According to a statement by Mr Goodie Ibru, President, LCCI, The consideration of the PIB by the National Assembly seems to have lost momentum,
He expressed regret that the process of passing the bill is being obstructed by forces seeking to promote other interests over national interest.
He said, "This is a cause for serious concern, having regard to the imperative and urgency of reforms in the oil and gas sector which is currently plagued by gross sub optimality, policy uncertainty, inefficiency and corruption. The PIB offers the framework to overhaul the petroleum industry for optimal value for the Nigerian economy and its people."
He maintained that the Nigerian economy will continually remain vulnerable, as long as people seek to perpetuate the status quo.
According to him, it is critical as well to salvage the economy from the cavity of corruption which currently plagues the sector and poses a profound systemic risk to the entire economy.
He called on the National Assembly to accelerate the process of consideration of the bill in the larger interest of the Nigerian economy and its people.
He said, "The economy is well positioned to leverage on an efficient and competitive oil and gas sector to achieve the much desired transformation. We need to unlock the huge potentials for job creation, backward integration, robust investments in refineries, investments in distribution and marketing of petroleum products, development of petrochemical industries and numerous multiplier effects that would be generated for the economy.
"Additionally, there will be huge savings in foreign exchange that would result from self sufficiency in petroleum products production as investments in refineries become attractive to investors. Resources currently being committed to importation of petroleum products are horrendous and clearly not sustainable.
"The Lagos Chamber looks forward to the urgent passage of a PIB that would ensure transparency in the oil and gas sector and driven by technocrats so that the economy and the citizens could get optimal value. It is critical as well that the sector be insulated from all forms of interference by bureaucrats and the political leadership."
The PIB, which is a Bill for an Act to provide for Establishment of a Legal, Fiscal and Regulatory Framework for the Petroleum Industry in Nigeria and for other Related Matters is presently before the National Assembly for deliberation after President Goodluck Jonathan forwarded the Bill to the lawmakers last year.
The lawmakers failed to commence deliberation on the Bill before they went on recess last. However, on resumption this year, the senate tried opening debate on the Bill, but it was suspended, failing to progress to the Second Reading, following opposition from the Northern senators.