10 December 2012

Uganda: Second Oil Bill Up for Debate, Kadaga Vows Autonomy

Kampala — The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has said she will remain "steadfast" in maintaining and sustaining the independence of Parliament and avoid interference by the Executive.

"I will continue to maintain the independence of Parliament against all odds," Kadaga said during a weekend press conference in Parliament.

She was responding to journalists who asked her whether the Executive was not patronizing Parliament in light of pressures like passing the Petroleum (Exploration, Production and Development) Bill 2012.

The Bill was initially handled by her deputy, Jacob Oulanyah, she stressed, and that when she took over, she had hoped it would be passed by Tuesday. Instead, it was passed on Thursday.

Legislators have expressed dismay at the way the first Bill was passed.

Jim Muhwezi said it is good if all the oil Bills are passed with consensus on all sides so that there are no future complaints.

Up for scrutiny

A second oil Bill that is expected for debate is the Petroleum (Refining, Gas Processing, Conversion, Transportation and Storage) Bill, 2012.

The MPs are set to begin scrutinizing the second oil Bill this week, days after the passing of the first one.

Lands minister Daudi Migereko on Sunday said the second Bill will soon be at the committee stage - where MPs study clause by clause and make amendments where there are inadequacies.

"The Cabinet will look at what they are proposing," he said.

The second Bill's object is to give effect to Article 244 of the Constitution on minerals and petroleum, regulate petroleum refining, gas processing and conversion, transportation and storage of the resource.

It also provides for an open, transparent and competitive process of licensing by the minister responsible for petroleum, health and safety as well as providing for termination of petroleum activities.

The parliamentary committee on natural resources was scheduled to meet the energy and mineral development minister, Irene Muloni, over the weekend to harmonize positions.

If passed, the Petroleum Authority of Uganda shall be responsible for monitoring and regulating petroleum refining, gas processing and conversion, transport and storage.

It will also be responsible for reviewing and approving the plans submitted by a licensee and administering petroleum agreements and contracts related to midstream petroleum operations.

According to some of the provisions, a person shall not construct or operate a petroleum refinery or any other facility for the conversion of crude oil or a gas-processing, transmission or storage facility without a license issued by the minister responsible.

Where a licensee defaults, the minister may, in consultation with the authority and the approval of Cabinet, by notice in writing, suspend or cancel the license.

The minister may cancel the license if the licensee is deemed bankrupt or enters into any agreement or scheme with his or her creditors or takes advantage of any law for the benefit of debtors.

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