Stakeholders in the solid minerals sector of the economy have flayed the underfunding of the sector by the government, saying it negates Federal Government’s aspiration to redirect attentions towards the sector for revenue generation.
National President of Miners Association of Nigeria, Mr. Sanni Shehu, lamented the paucity of funds needed to effectively develop the sector, stressing that even though Nigeria solid minerals sector holds greater potentials of stabilising the economy of the country, the sector remained grossly underfunded.
Shehu called on the government to review the funding arrangement of the sector for the greater good of the nation’s economy.
The chief miner of the country, stated that Nigeria’s solid mineral deposits are far greater than that of South Africa both in quantity and in quality but the revenue generate in South African mining sector is far greater than Nigeria’s because lack of funding and development.
“While I enjoin members to cooperate with NEITI on 2011 solid minerals audit exercise I want to observe that both NEITI and mining sector is grossly underfunded” he said.
Also, the Executive Secretary, the Nigerian extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, described the underfunding issue as a major challenge to NEITI stressing that lack of funds had hindered NEITI from effectively getting to all the entities which it ought to cover during the last audit.
For the Minister of mines and steel development, Arch. Musa Mohammed Sada, to build a prosperous solid minerals sector and enhance the chances of the present administration’s aspiration of diversifying the nation’s economy, operators in the mining sector must open up to NEITI and cooperate with its efforts to generate information and relevant data for the upcoming 2011 Solid Minerals sector audit.
He recalled that the 2007-2010 NEITI audit report helped exposed many lapses which led the ministry to strengthening its system to close up the gaps and improve on revenue collection, accountability in tax and royalty regimes among other things.
He said arising from the last audit the ministry made presentation to the economic management Team Implementation Team (EMIT) proposing the development of a sector specific fiscal regime that will lead to putting in place, a Mining Industry Tax Act.
He added that the ministry also commenced collaboration with infrastructure ministries to facilitate proper assessment of revenues by Bill of Quantities (BOQ) and Bill of Engineering Measurement and Evaluation (BEME) of construction and contracts that reveal the quantities of stone aggregates, latetrite and sand used at works.
The minister said the audit report led to the establishment of the Solid Minerals Development Fund and has facilitated the computerization of the issuance and management of mineral titles and is currently working to rid the sector of speculative title holders through the ‘Use it or lose it’ principle.
Information from National Mirror was used in this report.