Mining: Senate summons Minister over loss of revenue

The Senate, Friday, summoned the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, over poor regulation and loss of revenues in the sector.

This is as the Upper legislative chamber through its joint committees on Finance, National Planning, Gas Resources, Petroleum Upstream and Downstream, fixed N15billion as target revenue for Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office (NMCO) in 2022 as against N4billion proposed by the agency.

The joint committees also threatened zero budget allocation in the 2022 fiscal year for any revenue generating agencies without clear cut revenue profile or targets.

Summoning of the Minister by the committees, was sequel to failure of Director – General of NMCO, Engineer Obadiah Nkom, to furnish the commitee with required explanations on low revenues being generated in the sector and the menace of illegal mining across the country.

The Director – General of Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office had in his submissions before the joint committees said in 2019, N2.58billion revenue was generated and remitted to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF), which reduced to N2.3billion in 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic but already increasing in 2021 with N3.166billion realised as at July this year out of the targeted N4billion.

Dissatisfied with his submission, the Chairman of the committee, Senator Olamilekan Adeola (APC Lagos West), and other members, wondered why such an agency could not generate revenue beyond the threshold of four to five billion naira.

Specifically, the committee Chairman said, “Your submissions on revenue generation is low and not impressive at all because big companies like Dangote Cement, BUA etc, with combined yearly profits of about N5trillion are under your purview.

“These are aside other companies carrying out illegal mining activities across the country that are not captured in your revenue generation.

“A lot of Chinese are involved in illegal mining in the country without your agency or any other one saddled with regulation of the sector, doing anything as far as licensing them and monitoring their explorations in form of collection of royalties are concerned.”

But the Director-General in his response said the mandate of his office is just for licensing of firms and not collection of royalties or monitoring of illegal miners or mining.

“Our revenue is strictly generated from licensing and Annual service fees collected from firms . Royalties and illegal mining are not under my purview and I cannot dabble into them,” he said.

Angered by his submission, the commitee chairman in agreement with the members, ordered the clerk of the committee to summon the Minister of Mines and Steel Development for required interface on way out of the problem in the sector, particularly as regards illegal mining and low revenue generation.

“The Minister will have to appear before this committee for required interface on way out of the problem in the sector.

“As for the Mining Cadastre Office, N15billion is now fixed as targeted revenue generation for year 2022 , because you have the capacity of meeting up with that as against four or five billion you are proposing,” he said .

He added that in stopping the yearly budget of the country from being funded by borrowings, the Finance Act will be amended to make agencies fully funded by government to remit 100% of their revenues into the Consolidated Revenue Fund, those partly funded, 80% of their operational surpluses .

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