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Shell, Agip, Chevron tax evaders, Gov Dickson writes Buhari

 

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Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt: 21 April 2016

The face-off between Bayelsa State government and multinational oil companies deepened on Thursday with Governor Henry Seriake Dickson, seeking the intervention of the Presidency over tax evasion, flagrant disregard of laws and non-compliance with the rules and regulations of the country.

A press statement from Bayelsa Govt House named the companies that evade tax as Shell Petroleum Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC); Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited (NAOC); Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL); Consolidated Oil (CL); Conoil Producing; Brass LNG and Aiteo Energy.

Dickson in a letter he personally wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), dated April 18, 2016 and obtained by State House Correspondents on Thursday in Abuja, pleaded that the government should not support the oil companies.

Our further position is that the Federal Government and its agencies should not condone or support irresponsible behaviour by these companies whose conduct subvert and undermine the authority of the State and our economy especially in the areas we have legislative authority such as Development Control, taxes permitted by Federal Laws and other legislations within the residual powers of the State”, he said.

He specifically complained about defaults by oil and gas companies operating in the state to pay taxes and levies over time.

Dickson therefore, urged the President to use his good offices to prevail on the companies concerned, who are licencees of the Federal Government, to comply with the laws of the state and that of the country.

Our correspondent reports that the SPDC’s facility in Gbaran Ubie Integrated Oil and Gas, was recently sealed over charges of default in the payment of taxes and levies.

The Executive Secretary of Bayelsa State Physical Planning and Development Board (BSPPDB), Boro Ige-Edaba, had in a statement earlier this week, announced the sealing of the property, relying on an eviction order issued by the State High Court in Yenagoa.

He said the eviction order had granted the government of Bayelsa State leave to effect the eviction of SPDC and all occupants of the premises to enable the Physical Planning and Development Board conduct environmental, health, technical integrity and safety checks on the facility.

Ige-Edaba contended that the facility was built without a building permit (called Development Permit) as required by Law.

The eviction order had granted the government of Bayelsa State leave to effect the eviction of SPDC and all occupants of the premises to enable the Physical Planning and Development Board conduct environmental, health, technical integrity and safety checks on the facility.

The facility was said to have been built without a building permit (called Development Permit) as required by Law.

The Court had also directed the Commissioner of Police, the Commander of the Joint Task Force (JTF) and all security agencies to facilitate the enforcement of the eviction.

But Dickson in his letter, chronicled the various negative exploration activities of the oil and gas companies operating in the state over a long period of time by refusing to pay land use service charges and development levies thereby impinging on the environment especially through spillage and indeed economy of the state.

“Sadly, the compliance level of the oil and gas exploration and production companies in payment of levies and taxes is very low and in fact, pitiable”, he stated. 

Dickson emphasised the strategic nature of Bayelsa State as host community and the concomitant tremendous impact on the expenditure outlay of the state government in terms of security, community relations and other related expenditure as it strives to ensure a conducive and peaceful environment for the operators who are mostly multinationals.

He regretted, however, that the major oil firms have not been realistic by contributing proportionally to the economy and development of the state, a situation, he said, needed to be reversed.

“Sadly, the compliance level of the oil and gas exploration and production companies in payment of levies and taxes is very low and in fact, pitiable”, he stated.

While insisting that the situation, contravened the relevant legislations in the state, the governor accused the affected companies of not employing indigenes of the state nor awarding contracts to them.

He also claimed that these companies do not have offices in the state, while only a negligible percentage of their staff pay the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax as a basic legal obligation.

He listed the taxes and levies to include Pay As You Earn (PAYE), Infrastructure Maintenance Charge or levy, Development levy, Land Use Charge, Environmental (Ecological) Fees or levies, Property tax and Business Premises Registration.

The sealed Shell facility at Gbaran, Dickson stated, occupied a massive land area that is half of the size of Lagos Island measuring 2 million square metres whereas, Lagos Island occupies about 3.9 million square metres.

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