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PIB faces fresh obstacle as Senate passes reconciled bill, House of Reps delay votes over disagreement

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Nigeria’s Senate on Thursday voted to approved a reconciled Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which now made provision for 3 percent share of the annual operating expenditure for host communities.

However, the House of Representatives shifted forward its approval of the reconciled version of the bill as it affected the allocations to host communities where oil is produced.

The postponement following disagreements over the percent of the operating cost to be set aside for host communities by oil firms durind debate on the bill.

The House of Reps members from southern oil-producing states objected to the smaller share of money for oil-producing communities and the chief whip postponed the house vote after hours of rancorous argument in a closed session over the issue.

The overhaul governs all aspects of petroleum in Africa’s largest oil exporter – from oil drilling to gasoline prices, and experts say its passage this year is key as many investors begin to look beyond fossil fuel.

Observers had expected that the political alignment between the legislature and President Muhammadu Buhari would ensure speedy approval.

Each parliamentary chamber passed the bill this month, but approved different amendments, which required harmonisation between lawmakers from the two chambers.

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The reconciled bill approved by the senate included sending a 3 percent share of the annual operating expenditure of oil companies to communities where petroleum is produced.

The house had approved a 5 percent share, and the difference was a sticking point in the reconciliation process.

The original executive bill sent to the chambers by President Buhari included a 2.5 percent share for communities.

Amendments on the reconciled package are barred, meaning legislators can only vote yes or no and any changes would require redrafting and another round of voting by each chamber.

Other lingering points of disagreement in the legislation centred on who can import fuel and how much money should be directed to developing frontier fields in areas where oil is not yet produced, mostly in northern Nigeria.

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