Bishops Support Demands To Restrict Powers Of Energy Minister

1723 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Retired Bishops Zac Niringiye and Macleod Baker Ochola have weighed in on the ongoing debate on whether or not to amend Clause 9 of the Petroleum Bill.

Retired Bishops Zac Niringiye and Macleod Baker Ochola have weighed in on the ongoing debate on whether or not to amend Clause 9 of the Petroleum Bill.
 
The Clause provides powers for the minister of Energy and Mineral Development to grant and revoke licences, initiate, develop and implement oil and gas policy, submit draft legislation to Parliament, and issue petroleum regulations. It also empowers the minister to negotiate and endorse petroleum agreements, approve field development plans, promote and sustain transparency in the petroleum sector and approve data management systems among other functions incidental to his or her functions.
 
The Clause has turned controversial and was the main point of contention last week when parliament turned rowdy with legislators insisting that the clause should be deleted to check on the powers of the minister.
 
A proposed amendment suggest that the Minister should only be left with mandate over policy matters and political oversight arguing that it is good practice to vest powers to grant or revoke licenses into an entity rather than an individual.
 
And now retired Anglican Bishops Zac Niringiye of Kampala and Baker Ochola of Northern Uganda diocese, have added their weight on to the list of the proponents to delete the Clause.
 
Niringiye argues that there have been several cases of theft of public resources vested under the authority of ministers. The bishop added that presently, many Ugandans have lost trust in most government officials including ministers making it difficult to restore similar trust in the energy minister to effectively manage the oil resource.
 
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On his part, retired Bishop Baker Ochola emphasized that the phrase “oil curse” could come true for Uganda unless its leaders ensure transparency in its management. Ochola urged Members of Parliament to take a lead in instituting proper legislation to manage the resource.
 
Ochola, as though referring to the frequent NRM party Caucus meetings where the president is accused of compromising positions agreed in parliament, advised the MPs to desist from taking directives issued at the various political party Caucuses saying they should place their country and electorates above party and individual interests.
 
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The Petroleum Bill on Exploration, Development and Production is one of the three proposed laws on oil supposed to be enacted by parliament to regulate the new oil and gas industry in the country. The others are Petroleum Bill on Refining, Gas Processing and Conversion, Transportation and Storage as well as the Public Finance Bill, which provides for the management of the Oil revenue.
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