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Tanzania passes ‘urgent’ petroleum laws, Civil Society concerned

Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete last week told the country’s Parliament that he would accent to the recently passed petroleum Bills as soon as they get to his desk days after the Legislators passed three controversial laws amidst concerns by civil society that the process was not consultative.

The Tanzania Extractive Industries (Transparency and Accountability) Bill 2015, The Oil and Gas Revenue Management Bill 2015 and The Petroleum Bill 2015 were presented to Parliament last month under ‘certificate of urgency’ but Opposition MPs demanded that the legislations are withdrawn to give industry stakeholders time to scrutinise them.  The ensuing dramatic debate resulted in the suspension of 40 Opposition MPs in a show-down between the ruling CCM Party and the Opposition that was very much similar to what transpired in Uganda in 2012 when the oil laws were in Parliament.

The Tanzanian Civil Society Coalition expressed particular concern at the tabling of the Bills under the ‘certificate of urgency’ noting that it hindered inclusive, open and informed participation of the citizens, industry stakeholders and legislators.

Tanzanian law permits a Bill to be debated and passed by Parliament under the certificate of urgency if it is deemed by the President to be of an unusually urgent nature that time does not permit compliance with the prescribed procedure of tabling Bills.With the general election set for October this year, Parliament only had weeks to discuss the Bills before its mandate expired last Friday.

But according to a statement from the Civil Society Coalition, this privilege is being abused by government to pass laws without proper consultation. “It has now become a norm in Tanzania to rush such important laws through Parliament under certificate of urgency,” read a statement released by the Coalition. “The recent examples being The Mining Act 1998 and 2010 which were passed hurriedly before they  became center of criticism for their shortcomings.”

The Coalition also denied claims by the government that proper stakeholder consultations had been done prior to tabling the Bills in Parliament. “The Civil Society with great disappointment takes note of the false claims by the Minister for Energy and Minerals at the public hearing in Dodoma on the 24th of June, 2015 that stakeholders, including civil society were consulted. At no time did we endorse these bills, as we are aware that relevant Parliamentary committees did not consent but it is the Parliamentary leadership that imposed on them.”

The Figures

The 2015 Petroleum Bill stipulates a 12.5 percent royalty for oil and gas production onshore and 7.5 percent offshore. The government’s profit share from future oil production which will be tagged to daily production levels will range from a minimum of 50 to 70 percent while the share of profit on natural gas production will range from a minimum of 60 to 85 percent.

The Bill also ring-fences the recoverable costs of exploration and development licenses, establishes a Regulatory Authority and Advisory Bureaus to manage the oil and gas sector and seeks to transform the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) into the National Oil Company (NOC).

Report by Chris Musiime