Local governments within the Bunyoro region in western Uganda have been warned against reaching out to oil companies to assist them in the provision of social infrastructure because they can be abused.
While addressing district leaders from Hoima last week, Mr Julius Bigirwa Junjura, the Buhaguzi Member of Parliament, warned that just as it has happened in other countries where oil has been discovered, oil companies have tendencies to dupe local governments that they are helping communities they operate in by responding to requests for support which they later factor into their recoverable costs when the project is handed over to government.
“Yes they have money and they can do anything. What will happen if they delivered a vehicle and exaggerated the cost which you cannot verify? They will just factor it as a recoverable cost because you asked for the vehicle in public and they will deliver it in broad day light and you cannot run away from that,” he said.
Mr Bigirwa’s warning followed a request by Mr Godfrey Sserwanja, the Hoima District Education Officer, to officials of the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) to help the district education office purchase a motor vehicle for the Education department which has lacked one for the last seven years. CNOOC handed over a cash donation of Shs31 million for tuition of 90 students who excelled in the 2014 Primary Seven, Senior Four and Senior Six National Examinations.
“You should be careful of making these companies appear like quasi governments. These are businesses. They are here to make money and they use Corporate Social Responsibility to make money because you asked them to,” he told the district leaders.
Asked to clarify, Mr Kabagambe Kaliisa, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Energy, explained that the recoverable costs the MP implied are the real investments the companies inject into the production of the oil.