3 December 2012

Uganda: Religious Leaders Advise On Oil Bill

Religious leaders have asked Parliament to include stringent safeguards against corruption and abuse of the oil sector.

"We proposed that Parliament executes its oversight role to vet and approve members of the Petroleum Authority, receive reports from the authority and ratify exploration and production licences," the leaders noted.

In a statement signed by John Baptist Odama on behalf of the Inter-Religious Council, the leaders appealed to Parliament to ensure respect of principles of separation of powers among various organs of government.

The clerics said the separation would enhance transparency and accountability in the governance of the oil sector.

They also appealed to Parliament to ensure that all technical functions of licensing, negotiating agreements and approving field development plans be done by the Petroleum Authority, while the minister retains powers of approval.

Odama, who read the statement last week at the council's headquarters in Namirembe, also said the Bill must comprehensively guard against the abuse of any right of Ugandans who will be involved in the sector.

He urged MPs to resist temptations to change its earlier stand on the Bill.

"Parliament and all other stakeholders are duty bound to ensure that the people of Uganda have a bigger say in the governance of oil production," the clergymen said.

Parliament was last week suspended while in the final stages of passing the Petroleum (exploration, development and production) Bill 2012. Some MPs had protested against reviewing Clause 9 of the Bill, which had stripped the minister of excess powers over the oil sector.

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