Petroleum ministry defends N9.641bn budget at National Assembly

The Ministry of Petroleum Resources has presented its budget of N9.641 billion to the Joint Committees of Senate and House of Representatives on Petroleum Resources (Upstream and Downstream and Gas Resources).

The presentation was part of 2023 budget implementation and 2024 budget defence by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to relevant National Assembly Committees.

A statement on Tuesday by Mrs Oluwakemi Ogunmakinwa, Deputy Director (Press & Public Relations), said the ministry was represented by the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources (Oil), Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri and the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, (Gas), Mr Ekperikpe Ekpo.

In his opening remarks at the sitting, the Chairman Senate Committee on Gas, Sen. Jarigbe Agom, said it was their duty as a joint committee to ensure effective allocation of resources for the advancement of the country’s petroleum sector.

Agom added that the oversight function of the committee was predicated on fostering transparency, efficiency and sustainable development within the Ministry, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd. (NNPCL) and its subsidiaries.

He urged all stakeholders to engage in open dialogue and provide insightful inputs that would contribute to the formulation of a budget that aligned with national priorities.

The legislators raised a number of reservations about some inadequacies and shortcomings of the budget.

Specifically, they frowned at the paltry budget as it did not capture the refineries and its failure to include other initiatives aimed at alleviating the sufferings of Nigerians occasioned by subsidy removal on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

In his response, Lokpobiri explained that the Ministry’s 2024 budget was a substantial improvement on the 2023 budget.

Lokpobiri also emphasised that the Ministry of Petroleum Resources was more of a policy-driven Ministry and did not execute projects that addressed given concerns

He cited the Host Communities Fund provided by the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) targeted at addressing the concerns of oil producing communities.

The minister explained that it had many agencies that were mandated to carry out different responsibilities, while the ministry provided policies that would guide the operations of the companies doing business in the oil and gas industry.

He, therefore, assured the legislators that the concerns they expressed would be taken to the appropriate quarters so that those concerns would be addressed.

In his remarks, Ekpo stated that the ministry as a policy making organ, was to provide an enabling environment for investment in the oil and gas sector for the good of the country.

He called for synergy between the executive and legislative arms of government with a view to arriving at a level that would give renewed hope to Nigerians.

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