PARLIAMENT: Former Energy Minister Syda Bbumba has claimed that she signed a contentious Production Sharing Agreement(PSA) that allowed Tullow a $157m(Shs568b) tax waiver for an out of court settlement involving Uganda and the British oil firm.
Ms Bbumba told a Parliamentary committee that is investigating wide-range of irregularities in the Oil sector that she signed the controversial PSA after it had been approved by the Solicitor General, tabling an October 3 2001 letter as evidence of the SG’s approval.
Article 23.5 of the PSA, that is the source of trouble for Ms Bbumba, states that: “The assignment or transfer of an interest under this agreement shall not be subject to any tax, fee or other impost or fee levied either on the assignor or assignee in respect thereof.”
After Ms Bbumba approved the PSA between Uganda and Tullow, tax payer’s lost $157m(Shs568b) after a tax waiver was extended to Tullow to clear an out of court settlement.
But Ms Bbumba yesterday stunned MPs on Parliament’s Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) when she revealed that she signed the contentious PSA without bothering to peruse through.
“I did not read the agreement. My signature was based on approval by the Solicitor General. Once he cleared it, I took it that everything was fine,”Ms Bbumba said.
Bbumba’s troubles in relation to the deal were not helped by President Museveni, who told MPs in a closed session last month that he did not approve the PSA to exempt Tullow from $157m (Shs568b), insisting that the ex-Minister should account for her actions.
The Committee will today cross-examine Solicitor General Francis Atoke over Shs5b that remains unaccounted out of the Shs56b that was advanced to a team of government officials to travel to London to defend Uganda’s tax claims against British oil firms
The Committee will later this month prepare a report detailing the fate of Ms Bbumba and other government officials that have been faulted during the inquiry.