Tuesday, 11 October 2011

MPs demand halt in govt oil deals citing bribery


 MPs demand halt in govt oil deals citing bribery
Former Energy Minister Hillary Onek is one of the ministers whose name came up during the oil agreements' debate in parliament  
By Yasiin Mugerwa  (email the author)

Posted  Tuesday, October 11  2011 at  00:00

The government came under attack for conniving with foreign oil companies as petitioners who forced a recall of Parliament from recess to discuss a matter of urgent national importance led debate on the oil sector yesterday.
In a bipartisan oil petition presented by Lwemiyaga MP Theodore Ssekikubo (NRM) and seconded by Bugweri MP Abdul Katuntu (FDC), the lawmakers demanded an immediate halt on executing oil contracts and all other transactions until necessary laws have been passed by Parliament to put into effect the National Oil and Gas Policy.
The lawmakers have also demanded that the government tables all the relevant Bills within 30 days, reviews the Production Sharing Agreements, accounts for the revenues so far received from oil dealings, desists from executing any contract in the oil industry with confidentiality clauses and sets up a judicial commission of inquiry headed by a Supreme Court Judge to investigate ministers named in bribery scandals. They also want the government to withhold the consent to the transactions between Tullow Oil (U) Ltd, Total and CNOOC, reportedly slated for October 15, before capital gains tax assessed by URA payable by Tullow is paid in advance and a report to that effect is made to Parliament.

The government was also asked to explain how it procured foreign lawyers in the Heritage Oil case in London.
Mr Ssekikubo told the House that although Uganda is supposed to pay for the costs incurred during the exploration and production process, the oil companies are cheating Ugandans through exorbitant salaries for themselves and their employees.
He tabled documents indicating that some employees of Tullow with certificates in catering were being paid between Shs36 million and Shs54 million per person per month.
The documents also put local representation in terms of employment in the oil sector at only 30 per cent.
Parliament heard from the Lwemiyaga MP that for accommodation and feeding, each employee pays about $201 per day (about Shs560,000).
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The money according to Mr Ssekikubo is shared by contractors linked to “powerful Ugandans” in government.
Mr Ssekikubo told Parliament that instead of establishing a parking yard in western Uganda where the oil is located, the government allegedly allowed Tullow through a company owned by Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi’s daughter Nina Mbabazi and a one, Mathew Rukikaire to establish the yard in Kiira, a Kampala suburb.
“One wonders the rationale of having a yard in Kampala yet oil fields are in Hoima. All these are tricks to abuse public funds,” Mr Ssekikubo said.
“Neither matooke nor fish is bought from the local people; these people get their food from Kampala because some people in government cut deals,” Mr Ssekikubo said.
“We are paying $120,000 per day for rigs which were brought yet they are idle. The companies are not losing anything because at the end of the day, they are supposed to recover their costs,” he added.
Attorney General Peter Nyombi attempted to stop the debate claiming that it was prejudicial to a court process underway in London but was overruled by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga.
ymugerwa@ug.nationmedia.com

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