Shs6billion Oil Bonanza: A Wake up Call for Ugandans
Diana Taremwa, a Program Officer responsible for the Extractive Sector at Water Governance Institute is featured in an article published on Chimpreports and New Vision online news platforms. She expresses that the shs6billion doled out to senior government officials as a token of appreciation for their peripheral role of winning the courts case in London against Heritage Oil and Gas Capital Gains Tax dispute is a wake-up call on Ugandans on the onset of vices characteristic thrift and wasteful spending of resource-revenues as they begin trickling into the treasury; corruption, patronage-buying, elite-capture of the revenues; and politics of regime survival. She warns that Ugandan need to wake-up and ensure that governance is in accordance to the set policies and legislation (rule of law) governing natural resources. Below are her views;
Media has recently been awash with stories about how senior government officials who oversaw the tax dispute settlement between government and international oil company Tullow were awarded shs.6 billion as a token of appreciation.
The latest of is a “controversial injunction” in which Justice Steven Kavuma stopped parliament from probing officials who received the money. Parliamentary speaker Rebecca Kadaga described the ruling as “stupid” in what appears the first major blow of 2017 between the two vital arms of government. However, this injunction has since been withdrawn.
To Ugandans, such acts, ambiguous undercurrents and tensions do not foreshadow smooth sailing of the oil and gas sector. In fact, they only serve to confirm our skepticism towards what is happening behind closed doors and away from the watchful eye of the public.
At the same time, such incidents are clearly born out of conditions that have for a long time Since the discovery of oil in 2006 characterized the sector. Disregard of constitutionalism, the rule of law and democracy, corruption, land grabbing ,mistrust and last but not least a terminal lack of access to information are but some of the characteristics of Uganda’s oil and gas sector.
According to the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, commercial production wil not begin until 2020. It also means that Ugandans still have a little more time to clean up their house and prepare better for oil production. An opportunity to, address the bigger governance issues that may affect equitable development of the oil resource.
Ugandans need to be more effective and involved in the oil and gas sector so as to ensure transparency and accountability as this is the only way the sector will deliver on the transformation that the oil resource promises.
Oil revenues if well utilized can solve problems that we continue to suffer as a country such as poor quality education, chronic unemployment and poor health facilities and services . Conversely, mismanagement of the oil resources may also leads to social, economic and political consequencesfor instance increased poverty and income inequality, corruption and a general break down of government systems.
Civil society within its capacity as watch dogs of the sector need to ensure that laws, regulations and processes put in place are implemented in a transparent, participatory and inclusive manner .
At Water Governance Institute we recognize that local communities in particular the oil hosts need to be empowered to influence the discourse on oil governance and cause tangible change. We are empowering them with knowledge and information on their rights so that they become an influential voice and take action.
Youth who hold the future of this nation and comprise of 78% of the population also need to be empowered to advocate for transparency in the sector. only then will their dream of the oil sector delivering the much needed jobs become a reality.
Ugandans are teetering on the brink of what might be their last chance at transformation and economic success, being torn to shreds by the jaws of the all-powerful few entrusted with overseeing the running of the oil sector. It is thus important that we take action now to avert a looming resource governance crisis in Uganda