By Umaru Kashaka
LEGISLATORS on the committee of defence and internal affairs have asked the Police to enter into an agreement with oil firms engaged in the exploration and production of Uganda’s oil to start offering security services in oil areas instead of using private security firms.
British outsourcing security firms G4S and Saracen are the major private security companies currently securing the oil areas in the Albertine Grabben region which stretches from Nebbi in North-western Uganda to Kanungu in the Southwest.
In February this year, Uganda signed a memorandum of understandingon the sustainable development of the discovered petroleum resources in the Albertine region with Britain's Tullow Oil, Total of France and China's CNOOC, which formed a joint venture to develop the oil fields.
The MPs on Tuesday noted that since oil will be the major revenue-earner for the economy once commercial production starts in 2016 as expected, the move will enable the police get funds (sh20b for the first phase) to operationalize the unit to police the oil areas and also boost its non-tax revenue collections.
“This unit requires personnel, equipment and logistics, but currently there is no money for operationalizing it in the budget, but we have recommended that the police should enter an agreement with oil firms so that it can get money for operationalizing this activity,” the committee chairperson and Mubende Woman MP, Benny Namugwanya said.
They said government should make all efforts to secure national income by ensuring the agreement is signed.
“Oil is a government property and it’s risky for private security firms to take care of it and yet the police is constitutionally mandated to do this work. If the police start securing the oil fields, it will become a highly profitable source of additional income for it,” said the Agago County MP Amos Okot.
The permanent secretary in the ministry of internal affairs, Stephen Kagoda, welcomed the call as a good idea saying it will reduce on recoverable costs currently standing at sh1.2 trillion.
“A national resource such as oil is very vital and should be fully in the hands of the nation (the police). Whose interests are the private security firms serving?” Kagoda asked.
In the financial year 2014/15 the Police was allocated sh395b against its requirement of sh607b and of this allocation, sh186.3b is for salaries, sh137b for non-wage recurrent expenditure and sh71b for capital expenditure.