Oil firms loot billions of dollars in taxes– gov’t

By James Atem Kuir

Vice President Dr James Wani Igga has accused oil companies of dodging taxes worth billions of dollars to the government despite several calls on the firm’s calls to clear the dues without fail.

The oil companies operating South Sudan oil sector include Malaysia’s Petronas, India’s ONGC Videsh and China National Petroleum Corporation, with other companies such as Sinopec, TriOcean and KUFPEC holding minor shares.

Nilepet, the national oil firm represents the government in all the oil operating consortia.

Dr Igga, who heads the Economic Cluster, in a statement during the opening of a two-day ministerial seminar yesterday, revealed that the government was losing several billions of dollars in unpaid taxes as hundreds of companies operating the country’s oil sector continue to evade levies.

“… few weeks ago, we have already commenced embarking on the issues surrounding our oil. We discovered that there are hundreds of companies in the oil sector which are dodging taxes amounting to several billion (not millions) of unpaid dues for the government,” he said.

The Asian oil firms which have also been accused of lack of transparency, allowing environmental pollution and resisting environmental audit, came under scrutiny last year after when the government demanded payment of $3 billion stolen by the companies.

Michael Makuei Lueth, the Government Spokesperson and Minister of Information said after a cabinet in October last year that the operators resisted government resolution to conduct an environmental audit to determine the impact oil production on the oil-producing areas.

“The Cabinet directed the Minister of Petroleum to make sure that the sum of 3 billion dollars is paid to the Government of South Sudan and the environmental audit which is being resisted, is done immediately and the report presented to the cabinet in time,” Juba Monitor quoted MrMakuei as saying last year.

There have been reports of infertility, miscarriages, and eye and skin problems and other health problems among communities living near oil fields. Environmental impacts resulting from oil spillage have also been reported in the oil-producing areas.

The oil operators have not responded to any of the accusations by the government.

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