By Francis Ogwo
The Federal Government was paid the sum of N144 billion as dividend by the Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas Company, NLNG, in the fiscal year ended December 2020.
This is according to the report for January to December 2020 of the Ministry of Finance Budget implementation report presented by the Minister for Finance, Dr. Zainab Ahmed.
According to the report, in the year in review, the Federal Government budgeted a sum of N80.3 billion as its share of dividends from NLNG, however, the actual sum received as its share was N144 billion, N63.2 billion more or 79% higher than projected.
The year 2020 was a difficult year for the government as the fall in crude oil prices and the economic shutdown that was triggered by the Covid-19 Pandemic dented projections and ravaged revenues.
The dividend received from NLNG was a major bright spot in the government’s revenue performance for the year.
In 2020, the government projected revenue of N5.36 trillion but only received N3.9 in revenues representing a shortfall of N1.4 trillion or 27% for the year. The dividend received in 2020 is a stark contrast from 2017 when Nigeria just exited a recession triggered by falling oil prices and a sharp exchange rate devaluation.
In that year, the Federal Government’s share of dividends from Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) dropped by as much as $687 million, from $1.04 billion in 2015 to $365 million in 2016, a 65% drop.
The N144 billion received in 2020 topped the amount received from signature bonuses only N78.2 billion and complimented the N192 billion received by VAT.
It is the most effective form of revenue generation for the government.
Recall that in July, the House of Representatives planned to investigate the alleged illegal withdrawal of $1.05 billion from the NLNG account by NNPC without its knowledge and appropriation.
They had accused the NNPC of illegally tampering with the funds at the NLNG dividends account to the tune of 1.05 billion dollars thereby violating the nation’s appropriation law.
NLNG is jointly owned by NNPC(49%), Shell (25.6%), Total (15%), and ENI (10.4%).
The company is located in Bonny Island and has six trains with a total capacity to process 22 million tonnes of LNG a year and as much as 5 million tonnes of natural gas liquids.