Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi has urged MPs to vote in favour of extensive executive power over oil in a lengthy New Vision newspaper article, most of which is plagiarised from an essay on The Politics of Oil and Water sold online by www.docstoc.com.
The premier’s main argument, which appears in the closing paragraphs of the 1,600 word New Vision opinion piece, is that the Petroleum Authority, as industry regulator, should not both issue licences for exploration and production and at the same time enforce industry standards. This, he says, “tantamounts to one checking oneself!” Hon. Mbabazi, who is considered a possible successor to President Yoweri Museveni, also complains that “removing the Minister [from licensing decisions] is tantamount to removing the President from control of the oil resource.” Read More
The Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, has said she will not reconvene the House until MPs who allegedly disrupted proceedings on Wednesday, as a vote was about to passed over the controversial Clause 9 of a bill to regulate the petroleum sector, are punished for indiscipline.
Hon. Kadaga has ordered the parliamentary Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline to review the matter and report back to her by Monday so that appropriate disciplinary action is taken against lawmakers considered guilty of fanning the fracas in the debating chamber. Read More
“No vote! Our oil!” chanted a section of the House.
“Let’s Vote!” chorused another.
The Speaker’s chair vacant, the Sergeant at Arms and his assistants jealously guarded the Mace, the symbol of parliamentary power, as some members of the opposition appeared to be making a move for it.
This was the dramatic scene that played out in a fully-packed parliament yesterday as Uganda’s law makers clashed over whether to vote on re-introducing Clause 9 of a draft oil bill, giving sweeping powers to the minister in charge of oil. Read More
As MPs gathered in Uganda’s parliament this afternoon to debate a bill that will structure and regulate the oil sector, police on the gates were busily refusing entry to activists who wanted to the watch the debate from the public gallery—until rescue for the citizens’ rights came from the intervention of a prominent cleric.
Shortly before 2 pm Oil in Uganda found a despondent huddle of barred activists at the parliamentary gate. According to Henry Bazira, chairperson of the Civil Society Coalition on Oil and Gas, police had told them the public gallery was “full.” Read More
A controversial clause in Uganda’s Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production) Bill, which was amended during a parliamentary debate two weeks ago in such a way as to limit ministerial powers, has been re-introduced at the eleventh hour and will again be debated on Tuesday, November 27, after intense efforts by the ruling party to quell potential rebellion in its own ranks.
A National Resistance Movement caucus meeting held today (November 26) was widely seen as an attempt to railroad Movement MPs into supporting the original version of the bill, while civil society activists held their own press conference and issued statements denouncing the effort to overturn the earlier amendment. Read More
A book published this month by the Berlin-based Open Oil consultancy group aims to shine a light on the production sharing contracts—known in Uganda as production sharing agreements (PSAs)—that lie at the heart of the multi-trillion dollar global oil industry.
“Contract transparency is the next stage of the transparency movement” writes Open Oil founder, Johnny West, in a foreword to the book, which can be downloaded free of charge from the Open Oil website. Part of Mr. West’s foreword is re-published below. Read More
Everybody knows that oil is all about money for the companies, the contractors, the government, the speculators rushing to buy up land in Bunyoro . . . But if we re-phrase that thought as “It’s all about economics” it suddenly seems complicated and remote—something that non-economists struggle to understand. Yet, with parliament currently considering a Public Finance Bill that will make key decisions on oil revenue management, much wider public debate is needed over how Uganda’s share of the money should be spent and invested. The 3rd issue of Oil in Uganda’s quarterly, print newsletter, which is now rolling off the presses, tries to demystify the economics as a contribution to the debate. Here we re-publish one of the main articles from the newsletter, UGANDA’S OIL REVENUES: TEN KEY QUESTIONS Read More
By Angelo Izama
During the oil debate in November 2011, parliament was piqued by an incident in which a letter written to the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga in defense of Tullow Oil was presented on the floor by the Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi before Kadaga could open hers. The sense that government and the oil companies are locked in a tight embrace, working hand in glove, explains the attitude of mistrust that ordinary MPs now feel.
In the last seven days, battle lines have been drawn. In a rather bizarre commentary made on the distance ordinary Ugandans feel from the process, an NGO alliance led by Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment invited all of Uganda’s 370 MPs to the lakeside resort of Munyonyo to debate amendments to the country’s proposed oil bills. Read More
Uganda should move carefully and without haste to develop its oil industry and wider economy. Well crafted laws, with institutional checks and balances, are essential to govern the commercial aspects. Revenues should be deposited overseas in hard currency accounts, with a portion saved for the future—because development cannot take place overnight, it needs to phased. Increased government spending should be tied to a comprehensive development plan. Environmental, health and safety issues should be governed by regional laws that bind international oil companies to the same standards they would have to apply in their countries of incorporation—because otherwise they ‘won’t take it seriously.’
So says Columbia University professor, scholar-activist and renowned extractives industries expert, Jenik Radon, who has been delivering a series of lectures at Makerere University. Oil in Uganda caught up with him as he packed his bags to return to storm-buffeted New York City. Read More
More than 140 Ugandan members of parliament gathered in the Munyonyo Speke Resort today to ‘harmonise’ their positions ahead of the expected parliamentary debate next week on the two Petroleum Bills that were tabled in February.
The event was convened by the Parliamentary Forum on Oil and Gas (PFOG) which has criticised the draft laws more strongly than the Natural Resources Committee recommendations published last month.
PFOG, in common with many civil society groups, is calling for more limits on executive power and for stronger environmental and transparency provisions. Read More