Tuesday February 7 2012

Kadaga warns govt on oil deals

By Yasiin mugerwa & Enid Ninsiima


Speaker Rebecca Kadaga yesterday put Third Deputy Premier Moses Ali and Acting Government Chief Whip Daudi Migereko on the spot over the government’s failure to table oil sector laws as demanded by Parliament four months ago.

“I am warning you, you’re going to face the wrath of the members tomorrow (today). There is no way you’re going to avoid fire from members. We gave you 30 days but up to now there is no progress on oil laws yet you’re signing new contracts. What is exactly going on?” a source quoted Ms Kadaga saying during a meeting of the House Business Committee.

As the two ministers were being tasked for contempt of Parliament over last week’s controversial signing of new production sharing agreements with Tullow Oil, President Museveni was in Kasese enthusing about how he outmaneuvered the “dishonest people” in Parliament.

The President also threatened to deal with anyone who interferes with his plans even as civil society organisations and some MPs consider court action. “I called the minister to sign the oil agreements at 10am before court sitting at 2pm,” Mr Museveni said at the Army Day celebrations, adding that it was not until “I took my NRM MPs to Kyankwanzi for a retreat that we resolved to have the contracts signed”. “Ugandans have seen what it means by playing around with the economy,” Mr Museveni said.

Instilling confidence
Even with allegations of corruption in the oil sector, the President assured Ugandans of stable incomes once the oil exploration is completed.

Ms Kadaga’s unhappiness was mirrored in what other committee members described as a slap in the face of Parliament. “The Executive is simply telling Parliament ‘what can you do?’” a member said. “The Speaker got concerned after realising that among the urgent Bills, the oil Bills were missing yet they were given 30 days to bring them to Parliament. They have gone ahead to sign new contracts and this is clear contempt.”

The closed Business Committee meeting convened to discuss the agenda for Parliament which reconvenes today after a two-month recess, which saw Ms Kadaga express concern that while Cabinet accuses her of failing to control Parliament where the ruling party enjoys a majority, they have aggravated matters by failing to respect House resolutions.

Ms Kadaga reminded the two ministers that MPs will demand answers as to why the Executive signed a new deal in disregard of the Parliament resolution that placed a temporary freeze on signing of new contracts until oil laws are in place.

The Executive had been given three months within which to table Bills for laws to regulate the oil and gas sector. But four months later, Gen. Ali told the Business Committee that the government was not ready.

Sources told Daily Monitor that Gen. Ali, who represented Mr Amama Mbabazi, the Leader of Government Business in the House, promised to present a statement in Parliament today, adding that the signing of the Tullow deal was “a matter beyond the government control”.

Meanwhile, the Business Committee heard that a number of Bills which were saved in the 8th Parliament, including the controversial Anti-Homosexual Bill and Anti-HIV/Aids Bill, have been re-drafted and submitted for fresh tabling.