New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: Political Direction, Leadership Key for Oil Sector

Photo: New Vision
Parliament passes the petroleum Bill.

As incendiary rhetoric continues, especially on the floor of Parliament, the Government must continue giving a political direction and leadership for the growth of the oil sector.

This should be through the minister of Energy and Mineral Development.

Ofwono Opondo suggested in the New Vision of December 4, that external forces have infiltrated Parliament and are baiting civil society groups with favours to "frustrate", "delay" or even "stop" legislation for the oil sector.

Uganda has an elected Government that will run her affairs including ensuring that the oil benefits Ugandans.

It is this direction and leadership that should not be taken away from the executive through the line minister, because it stock takes, keeps and maintains all assets and resources in trust for Ugandans.

The executive has the powers of trusteeship over Ugandan assets, including oil, the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) as proposed in the Bills fits very well in the position of a Board/Council charged with the responsibility to ensure compliance by all.

On the other hand, the proposed National Oil Company (NATOIL) does the day-to-day management of commercial aspects of the sector while the Directorate of Petroleum within the line ministry is a technical arm being proposed to advise the line minister.

The minister would, rightly be best placed to; with technical guidance from the directorate, advice from the authority and approval from cabinet, negotiate, sign off agreements, grant and revoke licenses rather than subjecting this process to the red tape of the authority.

This authority cannot handle policy and at the same time be sucked into granting and revoking licences. Duplicating of roles must be avoided.

The groups in Parliament and some elements within the civil society cannot claim to have a better capacity than the Government that has effectively studied the functioning of oil sectors in oil producing countries. The Government carried out case studies on the best international practices for the oil sector whose ideas formed the basis for the oil Bills before Parliament.

Shortly before the Parliament was suspended by the Speaker, Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga, there was that retired Assistant Bishop outside the August House wishing "good luck" to MPs as they entered.

We are also aware of his and others' pre-Parliament meetings in which it was plotted to cause commotion on the floor of Parliament. He even wore his bishopric collar, in contravention of the 2011 Church of Uganda Provincial Assembly's standing order that no clergy, unless they resign, should ever make political statements while wearing their clerical robes or else they face sanctions.

Like the cleric above, some myopic opposition politicians say President Museveni should not be allowed to generate oil money because he will be too strong to defeat in future elections.

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