CBN warns against politicising $49.8bn diverted fund

The Central Bank of Nigeria has warned against the politicisation of the alleged diversion of $49.8bn revenue that ought to have accrued to the federation by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

An online news medium, SaharaReporters, had reported on Monday that the Governor of the CBN, Mr. Lamido Sanusi, had written to President Goodluck Jonathan to complain about the failure of the NNPC to remit the said amount to the Federation Account in contravention of extant laws.

He said the amount represented 76 per cent of the value of crude oil lifted during the period.

Sanusi’s complaints are contained in a letter to the President dated September 25, 2013.

However, the NNPC on Tuesday refuted the claims that it diverted the said amount, adding that the allegation by the CBN governor was borne out of misunderstanding of the workings of the oil and gas industry, and the modality for remitting crude oil sales revenue into the Federation Account.

But the bank said in a statement issued on Thursday by its Director, Corporate Communications Department, Mr. Ugochukwu Okoroafor, that while it would neither confirm nor deny the origin of the letter, its capacity was strengthened or undermined by the extent to which the country was able to increase foreign exchange earnings.

In the performance of this role, the CBN said in the statement that it was natural for it to show concern at the low level of accretion to reserves and the Excess Crude Account in spite of strong international oil prices.

It said, “The attention of the CBN had been drawn to an emerging public discourse around a letter purportedly written by the governor to the President expressing concern over the non-remittance of oil revenues by the NNPC.

“The CBN will neither confirm nor deny the existence of such a letter and considers any discussions by it on the alleged letter to be inappropriate.

“The CBN is statutorily mandated to establish price stability, protect the external value of our national currency, manage the external reserves of the federation and ensure the smooth running of our financial system as well as being an adviser to the President on economic matters.

“The capacity of the bank to perform its role effectively is strengthened or undermined by the extent to which the nation is able to increase foreign exchange earnings and savings from these earnings, thus boosting the excess crude savings account.

“In the performance of this role, it is natural for the CBN to be concerned at the low level of accretion to reserves and the ECA, in spite of strong international oil prices, especially as Nigeria’s performance is compared with other oil producing economies.”

While admitting the fact that an audit firm working on the directive of the Minister of Petroleum Resources had been asked to audit the revenues of the NNPC, the bank said there was an urgent need to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill.

This, it noted, would help to address fiscal terms and the structures of the NNPC.

The statement also said that the central bank would continue to play its role in strengthening the Nigerian economy and reducing its vulnerability to external shocks.

It, however, expressed satisfaction with the plan to set up a technical team made up of representatives of the Ministry of Finance, the NNPC and the CBN to examine revenue leakages in the oil sector.

“The CBN is aware of proposals to set up a technical team made up of representatives of the Federal Ministry of Finance, the NNPC and the CBN to examine the sources of any revenue leakage and propose an appropriate fiscal control,” the statement added.

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Contact: editor@punchng.com

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