By Richard Drasimaku
District leaders and civil society organisations in the West Nile sub-region have made recommendations to the Public Finance Bill, including a demand that a clause be included to compel the Government to save 20% of oil revenue annually.
This, they said, would cater for unforeseen effects after the oil resources have been exhausted.
They also suggested that the Government begins punishing Ministry of Finance officials for the late release of funds. They argued that the delay results in a lot of money being unspent.
“MPs should have been sent to consult the public on this important Bill instead of the Marriage and Divorce Bill,” Arua district LC5 vice-chairperson Sunday Ayikoru said.
She said proper management of oil revenue is of paramount importance to the economy and appealed for the fair sharing of the royalties.
Ayikoru said the Bill in its current form contains loopholes that could have dire consequences on the economy if not addressed beforehand.
She was opening a one-day dialogue organised by the Rural Initiative for Community Empowerment (RICE) with support from the International Alert held at Desert Breeze Hotel in Arua town on Friday.
The leaders also discussed the recently launched report on governance and livelihoods in Uganda’s oil-rich Albertine graben which revealed a high level of ignorance of the laws governing oil and gas exploration plus land use.
Peter Magelah Gwayaka, a researcher from the Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE), an independent public policy research, analysis and advocacy think-tank, predicted a contentious debate among the parliamentarians on the royalty sharing clause.
“If your MPs go there to sleep, you will lose this money because they are a minority in the House and there are people suggesting that you should not get the 7% royalty,” he said.
The Government has already released a list of 25 districts to benefit from the 7% royalty, which is the percentage proportion of the level of production of the district divided by the total level of production of all the districts involved in oil production.
West Nile leaders debate oil royalties