Nigeria’s oil sector reform bill, expected since 2008, was finally passed by parliament on Thursday, a “historic moment” for Africa’s top oil producer which has seen this natural resource exploited by foreign companies without any benefit to the local communities or maximizing its own revenues, as is a trend in many natural resource rich African nations.
Parliament voted to approve the long-delayed oil and gas law that aims to attract new foreign investment in the OPEC country’s petroleum industry. The PIB had been under review in the National Assembly for nearly two decades, hamstrung by disagreements such as over how much revenue should go to local communities in oil-producing regions. The bill, first submitted to the National Assembly in 2008, has been debated and rewritten several times, mainly because of disagreements over its terms between the government and the major oil companies operating in the country, but also between the executive and previous assemblies. The bill ai ms to provide a clearer framework and simplify taxes and royalties for oil companies working in Nigeria. The changes focus on three main areas: more controlled taxation, better redistribution of wealth, and the transformation of the Nigeria National Petroleum Commission (NNPC), reputed to be the state’s slush fund, into a commercial company. Nigeria hopes the PIB will encourage more investments while there is still time, as the world’s interest in oil and financing of fossil fuel projects is diminishing.
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