NEWS

MPs reject minister’s ‘weak’ statement on oil sector

 

State minister for Minerals Peter Lokeris (right) appearing before MPs this morning. He was accompanied by John B. Habumugisha, the MD of the National oil company. Photo by Vincent Kasozi.

KAMPALA–MPs on the Natural Resources Committee of Parliament have dismissed the minister of State for minerals, Peter Lokeris, over a poorly prepared statement on the oil sub sector’s preparedness to harvest oil in 2020.

The legislators reprimanded the minister for presenting a statement lacking detailed information on the sector’s policies and budget for key projects and investments.

They noted that the statement should have been a matrix presentation looping in all the different ministries involved in the preparation for oil flow.

The Buliisa county MP, Stephen Mukitale, noted that the minister’s statement was no different from the inadequate statement presented by Energy minister Irene Muloni that was rejected by MPs last Tuesday.

“So it would be laborious for the committee to continue with what was not accepted on the floor,” Mukitale asserted.

Major issues raised by MPs for consideration include detailed information on compensation of land owners, budget preparedness for major undertakings, road infrastructure, water resource management and local content policies.

Norah Bigirwa, the Woman MP for Buliisa district, lamented about the low compensation rates given to land and crop owners.

She also criticized the Energy ministry for the deplorable housing awarded to people displaced by the oil refinery project.

“I really don’t know how the minister handed over such houses,” she lamented.

She noted that systematic land demarcation has to be done in order to deter land grabbers from cheating locals out of untitled land.

The committee chairperson, Alex Byrarugaba, demanded that the minister presents a list of all those compensated.

“Give us a list of people you have compensated, for what you have compensated them and at what cost,” he ordered.

The MPs have demanded that all ministries involved in the oil and gas sector appear before the committee so that it can have an informed perspective.

These ministries include the dockets of Finance, Education, works, water and lands.

“The committee will be wiser and more informed with a bird’s eye view,” Mukitale noted.

Mukitale expressed concern that most of these ministries and agencies are unprepared and unfunded despite a 10% budget cut from other sectors in the 2017/2018 budget to cater for oil roads in the Albertine Grabben.

He demanded to know from the Finance ministry how much of these funds have been spent so far.

He also demanded that the Finance ministry present a three-year budget plan to the committee.

He noted that since the budgeting cycle has just started, the same mistakes of ill preparedness should not be repeated in the next financial year.

“Can we invite the Finance minister to make a presentation of what it will take for Uganda to produce oil by 2020 and how much has been spent so far,” Mukitale said.

The committee will present a report on the oil sector to the plenary after meeting all stakeholders.

 

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