Uganda’s Petroleum (Exploration, Development, Production) Bill completed its stormy passage through parliament on December 7 when the Deputy Speaker finally brought the matter to a vote, after a fortnight of intense lobbying and extra-parliamentary debate on contentious clauses.
The controversial Clause 9, which gives control over exploration and production licensing to the minister in charge of petroleum, is retained in the final version of the bill, which also establishes a national oil company to advance the state’s commercial interests in the oil sector, and a Petroleum Authority as the industry regulator. Read More
President Yoweri Museveni’s struggle to assert his authority over ruling party MPs may finally bear fruit today as parliament moves yet again to vote on the controversial Clause 9 of the Petroleum (Exploration, Development, Production) Bill, after weeks of fractious debate and procedural impasse.
According to MPs, the president has himself been contacting them by telephone to muster support for re-introducing Clause 9, which gives the minister in charge of petroleum—and, in effect, the president himself—decisive powers to award and revoke exploration and production licenses.
It is not known whether these conversations include the offer of financial rewards for political obedience, but some political observers regard this as a characteristic feature of President Museveni’s recent rule. Read More
A defiant Parliament yesterday again refused to vote on the controversial Clause 9 of the Petroleum Bill it has been debating for the last month, but agreed to stand-over the clause for one more day to allow both sides to study a compromise position.
It emerged that Energy Minister, Hon. Irene Muloni, together with some key MPs from the ruling and opposition parties had met at length on Monday and agreed on a ‘win-win’ position to propose to the House. Read More
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
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