The National Assembly Joint Committee on Public Enterprise Committee (PEC) and Environment yesterday engaged Ministries of Finance and Petroleum on the Petroleum Commission Bill 2020.
The engagement was aimed at seeking the opinions of the staff of the two ministries on the Petroleum Commission Bill 2020, which was tabled before the lawmakers at the plenary by Petroleum Minister, Mr. Fafa Sanyang, for legislative scrutiny, consideration and final adoption by the plenary.
Ministries of Petroleum and Finance, were requested by the said joint committee on PEC and Environment, to have their inputs on the bill, which the joint committee would report to the plenary its report on the engagement.
Halifa Sallah, Co-Chair of the Joint Committee, explicated that the discussion on the bill was assigned to the joint committee for scrutiny and they have dealt with the interpretation and moved to the establishment of the Petroleum Commission and its governing board.
He said: "As we proceed, we could see some contradictions, such as the appointment of the board members, in consultation with the Minister, was seen to be in contravention of section 175 of the constitution which calls for appointment of board members by the President in consultation with the public service commission".
He added since they are in the process of scrutinizing the bill and gauging it against the provision of the constitution which is also a Parent Act of the Public Enterprises Act, they though it wise to reach out to the Ministry since they have already submitted to the Assembly a State Owned Enterprises Bill 2020.
He averred: "We were concerned that if we proceed with this bill, based on the Public Enterprises Act of 1990 only to have to consider state owned enterprises bill, which may contain provisions that may not necessarily be a simple replica of the 1990 Act that would not be doing justice to our work".
He said: "This is the reason for engaging the Ministries, in the scrutiny exercise of the petroleum commission bill to hear their opinions from the Ministry regarding an act which may come, so that they could anticipate how to prevent flouting the current 1997 constitution, as well as not disregarding what may come as a Parent Act".
Lamin Fatty, Acting Director Public Private Partnership (PPP), at the Finance of Ministry, said the Finance Ministry is mandated to exercise oversight on the enterprises as the funds belong to the public, as such they are currently advocating for 'value for money and strong prudent public finance management', which is pushing them to have the commission in place.
He said key requisite for the commission to exist, is to have a public finance Act dubbed SOE Act (Sate Owned Enterprise Act), and as a result they have hired a consultant from the World Bank, who is working with the Finance Ministry on PPP and SOE to come up with a draft bill.
He said: "Unfortunately, this bill is still pending at the Assembly for approval. We have also presented the bill before the Cabinet and have secured the approval and next stage is to take it to justice for legal review and advice and formally submit it to the National Assembly for consideration".
He added: "We are trying to go in line with the draft constitution and there are some clauses in the new SOE Bill that are in line with our opinion that we put into the draft constitution which was rejected. That also has a direct bearing on the progress that we are supposed to have on the approval of the current SOE Bill".
He added the alternative is either to go back and redo it and align it with the current constitution, which is not their objective or to go in tandem with the draft new constitution that they are working on. He said the bill must be anchored key to which is the constitution itself, which if not passed whatever they have and aligned it to then it still not be fruitful.
PS Lamin Camara proffered: "The way forward at the moment, is to see how the relevant sections of the 1997 constitution is amended to be in line with the new SOE Bill, following the rejection of the new draft constitution".
The session subsequently adjourned till further notice.