MPs React Angrily To Museveni's Address

1849 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Legislators on the Parliamentary Forum for Oil and Gas say that President Museveni has confirmed their fears by admitting that he and the energy minister do not know anything about oil. While addressing Parliament on the oil sector on Thursday, Museveni said that the Forum shouldn’t have complained about Clause 9 of the just passed Petroleum Bill because it is not the minister but the scientists in the ministry of energy who will handle the work in the sector.

Legislators on the Parliamentary Forum for Oil and Gas say that President Museveni has confirmed their fears by admitting that he and the energy minister do not know anything about oil.

While addressing Parliament on the oil sector on Thursday, Museveni said that the Forum shouldn’t have complained about Clause 9 of the just passed Petroleum Bill because it is not the minister but the scientists in the ministry of energy who will handle the work in the sector.

The MPs pushed that the roles of negotiating and endorsing petroleum agreements, granting and revoking licenses to the technocrats who understand the technicalities involved but Museveni and majority of his NRM members insisted that the roles be performed by the minister.

The MPs asked why the president did not appoint the scientists he praised yesterday on the Petroleum Authority to perform the roles that a minister cannot handle.

Lwemiyaga MP Theodore Ssekikubo, whom President Museveni directly attacked during his speech, said that the president had the opportunity to put those experts who are the skilled people on the Authority, but insisted sided with the minister.

Bugweri County MP Abdu Katuntu wondered why the whole bill that was passed was about the minister if the appointing authority acknowledges that the minister doesn’t know much about the technicalities in the sector.  He said that the president lied that the minister will be working with the experts in the ministry yet there is no word “ministry” in the bill and the definition of the minister does not include ministry.

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Ndorwa East MP Wilfred Niwagaba also said that the president’s statement that the MPs intended to kick out his experts was disturbing and degrading their understanding and that of Ugandans.

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The MPs also said that the president lied to Ugandans by saying that he and his experts signed the best production sharing agreements (PSAs). They said that the environment would be degraded if they had not pushed for the amendment of the environment clauses in the bill yet Museveni was boasting of signing the agreements that protect the environment.

The legislators argued that if the PSAs were as favourable to Ugandans as the president claimed, Heritage Oil wouldn’t have taken the government to court in London and that Tullow wouldn’t be dragging government to court over a capital gains tax.

Tullow paid only 30 percent of the capital gains tax it was required to pay after the farm down to French company Total and China’s CNOOC in February this year. The Members questioned why Museveni ordered Muloni to sign a farm down before the tax was paid.

They say that Museveni is harassing them because they initiated the debate on the resource yet he was keen on keeping it in his bedroom.

The MPs asked why the president had not told Ugandans about the developments in the sector before debate was started in October last year if he was doing what is in the best interests of the sector and Ugandans.

Kibanda MP Sam Otada urged the president to acknowledge that Uganda’s oil is not his personal property with Kalungu West MP Joseph Ssewungu reminding him that he is not the one who discovered oil like he claimed because there is the 1985 Petroleum Act.

The members said the president was not honest with Ugandans and that he did not address any pertinent issues. They said that if the president wanted to talk about the bill, particularly Clause 9, he should have told Ugandans frankly why he insisted that the Clause be passed in the form it was passed and not be diversionary with claims that the legislators were under foreign influence.