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Senate summons Adegbite over poor revenue in Mining sector

Senate summons Adegbite over poor revenue in Mining sector

By Matthew Eloyi

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

This is as the Red Chamber fixed N15billion as target revenue for the Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office (NMCO) in 2022 as against N4billion proposed by the agency.

The Senate also threatened zero budgetary allocation in the 2022 fiscal year for any revenue-generating agencies without a clear-cut revenue profile or target.

The Senate joint committees on Finance, National Planning, Gas Resources, Petroleum Upstream, and Downstream issued the threat at an interactive session with federal agencies on the 2022-2024 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy (FSP) at the National Assembly, Abuja.

The minister was summoned following the failure of the Director-General of the NMCO, Obadiah Nkom, to explain the reasons for the low revenue in the sector and illegal mining across the country.

Nkom had, in his submissions before the joint committees, said N2.58 billion was generated in 2019, N2.3 billion in 2020, and N3.166 billion as of July 2021 out of the targeted N4 billion.

He attributed the low revenue in 2020 to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Members of the committee berated the agency for its failure to generate revenue beyond the threshold of N4billion to N5 billion.

“Your submission on low revenue generation is not impressive at all because big companies like Dangote Cement, BUA, etc with combined yearly profits of about N5 trillion are under your purview,” said the chairman of the committee, Senator Olamilekan Adeola (APC, Lagos).

“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 the regulation of the sector doing anything as far as licensing them and monitoring their explorations in form of a collection of royalties are concerned,” the lawmaker added.

Responding, the director-general said the mandate of his office was for licensing of firms and not a 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 committee members directed the minister to appear before them for a briefing on how to address illegal mining and low revenue generation in the sector.

“As for the Mining Cadastre Office, N15 billion is now fixed as targeted revenue generation for the year 2022 because you have the capacity of meeting up with that as against four or five billion you are proposing,” the committee chairman said.

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