The House of Representatives thursday passed a motion to set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the non-payment of penalties on gas flaring by oil companies and report back in eight weeks for further legislative action.
It also urged the relevant government agencies to undertake a damage and post impact assessment of the gas flared environment and direct the payment of compensation by the oil firms to the affected communities.
The resolution was consequent upon a motion moved by Hon. Ehiozuwa Johnson Agbonayinma (PDP, Edo); Hon. Uchechuku Nnam-Obi; Hon. Johnny Johnson E. Oghuma; Hon. Randolph O. Brown; Hon. Jerome Amadi Eke; Hon. Edward Pwajok and Hon. Issa Jessy Ali on the need to investigate the loss of over $14 billion as a result of non-payment of gas flared penalties by international oil companies (IOCs) from April 2008 -2016.
The House, further passed a resolution mandating its Committee on Finance to interface with the Federal Ministry of Finance to increase the current tax on tobacco products which percentage increase should be used to fund healthcare services.
It urged the federal government to embark on sustained campaigns to control tobacco use, implement the M-Power policy package, adopt stringent measures to restrict advertisement of tobacco products and promote smoke-free policies that cover public places to protect non-smokers from the harmful effects of second-hand smoking.
It also mandated its Committee on Healthcare Services to ensure implementation and report back within six weeks for further legislative action.
However, in his lead debate, Agbonayinma regretted that multi national oil companies which adhere strictly to internationally acceptable environmental best practices in their countries and other parts of the globe have refused to pay the agreed penalties on gas flared in Nigeria.
The federal government had in a bid to discourage gas flaring and encourage the redirection of gas flared from waste to wealth, and save the environment and the lives of the people living in the gas flared environment, imposed a penalty of $3.5 per 1000 SCF of gas flared by oil companies.
According to him: “The Deputy Director and Head, Upstream of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), while speaking at a Conference in Houston, Texas, USA recently, said that the country has lost $14,298 billion between April 2008 and October 2016 in form of penalties for gas flaring which the IOCs failed to pay, and in a similar vein, the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), in its latest Oil and Gas Audit Report, noted that firms operating in the country have failed to abide by the regulating penalty of $3.5 for every 1000 SCF of gas flared by oil companies.”
Meanwhile, the motion on the need to increase taxes on tobacco as a means of curbing tobacco use and funding healthcare services was moved by Hon. Sergius Ose Ogun and Hon. Albert Abiodun Adeogun.
They expressed concern that the M-Power policy objectives as postulated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) had not been fully implemented by the federal government particularly in the areas of monitoring of tobacco use and prevention policies and protection of people from tobacco use and offering help to quit tobacco use.