OIL: MPs ‘Green’ As Government Presents New Bill

Uganda’s finance ministry has proposed significant amendments to the Public Finance bill saying several vital areas were left out.

Finance Minister Maria Kiwanuka
Finance Minister Maria Kiwanuka

The public finance bill seeks to ensure prudent management of oil revenues to promote transparency and accountability. The proposed amendments were tabled before the three committees tasked to scrutinize the bill on Tuesday by Lawrence Kiiza, the director economic affairs at the ministry of finance.

They include; the finance committee, natural resources committee and the budget committee. The finance ministry has proposed amendments on almost every clause of the bill saying it is for the better management of the revenues accruing from the oil resource.

The ministry among others proposes that the oil money be kept on one fund in Bank of Uganda called the Petroleum Fund instead of the initial petroleum revenue management.

It also seeks to delete the word quarterly where the bill said that money appropriated from the consolidated fund from the petroleum revenue holding account shall be withdrawn quarterly. The MPs who were visibly lost told Kiiza that they did not understand whether those were amendments to the already existing bill or a new bill. Robert Sebunya Kasule, the finance committee chairperson asked Kiiza to go back and summarize the amendments to make them simpler for the MPs.

He says the MPs need time to first read and internalize the amendments before they have meaningful discussion. Earlier on Jacob Oboth Oboth, the West Budama South MP asked why the bill is significantly being changed by the same person who moved it saying this implies that government is not confident in its own proposals.

Akello Franca, the Agago woman MP suggested that if government thinks the initial bill is not good enough they should draft a new one instead of confusing the public.

The Public Finance bill, which was tabled in parliament in 2012, is feared might create an uproar like the upstream and the midstream bills, since it also gives a lot of powers to the minister.

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