5 Parliamentary Committees To examine Finance Bill

Five committees of parliament have been tasked to examine the Public Finance Bill before it comes up for the second reading and subsequent debate in the House.

The bill which among others seeks to manage the revenues from oil resource was tabled last year and it was referred to the committee on finance for analysis.

Parliament on Tuesday decided that four other committees help in examining the bill to apparently avert a possible standoff in the house, saying that there could be sharp disagreements if some committees are not involved.

The committees that were brought on board to help with the bill, which most observers say lacks oversight, include the Rules and Privileges Committee, the Budget Committee, the Natural Resources Committee and the Committee on National Economy.

The chairman of the committee on finance Robert Kasule told press that it was important to introduce the bill to all the relevant committees to have their input. The Kyadondo North MP said it is necessary to pre-empt any possible disagreements hence the need to have most committees be part of drafting the report for the whole house.

The chairman of the rules and privileges committee Fox Odoi said that parliament decided to involve as many committees as possible considering the significance of the bill. Odoi said however, that most of the work remains for the the committee on finance with the help of the committee on natural resources.

Kasule said that since the committee on natural resources handled the other two bills- the Petroleum (exploration, development and production) bill and the Petroleum (refining, gas processing and conversion, storage and transportation) bill, their input will be essential.

He added that the contribution of the budget committee will also be necessary since the law if passed will also deal with the economy’s budget issues.

The government instead of introducing the proposed oil revenue management bill opted to amend the public finance bill to have revenues accruing from the resource included in it.

Members of parliament especially those from the parliamentary forum on oil and gas have said that including the oil revenues in that law will deter transparency. Civil society members have argued that like the upstream and midstream oil bills, the public finance bill gives a lot of powers to the minister.

Although the midstream bill was recently passed with ease, the upstream bill met criticism and disagreements from most MPs, the same criticism parliament fears to face the public finance bill.

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