By Ayobami Adedinni
The President, Nigerian Gas Association, (NGA) and Chief Executive Officer, Frontier Oil Limited, Engr. Dada Thomas has said in order to actualize the needed change in the Gas sector of the Nigerian economy, gas should not be seen as a source of immediate tax revenue.
Speaking in an exclusive chat with Nigerian NewsDirect, he said this could make the sector an enabkler of the economy.
According to him, the needed focus ought to be converting gas to power which he said will allow the economy grow.
In his words, “Gas should not be seen as a source of immediate tax revenue but rather an enabler of the entire Nigerian economy.
“We should use gas to generate power which will allow the economy to blossom and if the economy grows, then you can get the VAT and all the transaction taxes you are looking for from a much larger economy. The Minister acknowledged that which is a good thing,” he said.
He added that a major hinderance to the desired gas development in the country is the activity of government in the sector adding that the association believes a free market will open up the potential in the sector.
In his words, “
In the NGA, we firmly believe that the need to migrate to a free market and that means we want to go into a willing-buyer and willing seller market.
“We don’t want government to be regulating commercial transaction. Government has no business in that. This is where we should get to.
“I think the difference between us and the policy makers is speed. We want it now but they want it much more slowly.
“I think overall, quite some progress has been made on the 7 BIG WINS. A number of policies were approved for Oil and Gas, then the PIGB which is one of the four parts of the Petroleum Industry Bill.
“The most important bill from the investors’ viewpoint is the Fiscal Bill.
“Now, the Petroleum Host Community Bill is important so is the Administration Bill but for the man who will bring his money to the table, the most important is the Fiscal Bill.
“And what we are advocating is that there should be an engagement between the policy and law makers with the operators and investors a lot more to ensure that we have an alignment that will be a win-win for everybody.
“If it’s not a win-win, investors will not bring their money and you know Nigeria does not have the balance sheet to turn the gas development and if we can’t fund gas development, we are going to be in perpetual darkness.
“If we continue to lack the power to generate employment for the young people, I think the future will not be bright for Nigeria.
“We believe operators, law makers, policy makers all have to work together to make sure that the 7 BIG WINS in general and Gas development specifically work for the benefit of all,” he stated.
Speaking further, he said for Africa to become a serious gas player in the world, a conducive environment needs to be created for operators, investors and the policy makers.
He said, “Some schools of thought believe that the enabling environment is not there while others believe that we are somewhere there.
“I think we are in between all of these. The truth is that the conducive environment to do business is not very good in Nigeria.
“Therefore, we need to attract external investors because we don’t have the money.
“If we don’t, they will go to Mozambique, Senegal, Ghana and other places who have found gas and are ready to work with investors. They will go to Tanzania.
“You heard one of the panelists talk about a bid round in Uganda which he won. He has never been to the place. So , he went , put a team together and won an acreage.
“Do you think that can happen in Nigeria? There is a need to make ease of doing business much better in Nigeria. All you have to do is come into contact with civil servants and you know that this is a difficult environment.
“Also, monetary policy has to work hand in hand with fiscal policy not conflicting. And then we have to ensure that the business environment is suitable for people to do business.
“The fact is we have been talking about this issue for 40 years. When will Nigeria get it right?,” he queried.