Friday August 22 2014

Clergy poke holes in oil finance Bill

By Isaac Imaka

PARLIAMENT- The Interreligious Council of Uganda has given its thoughts on the Public Finance Bill, calling for changes in line of clauses before the Bill is passed by Parliament.

In a memorandum sent to the Parliamentary Finance Committee yesterday, the Interreligious Council raises issues ranging from contesting the composition of the Bill to urging government to join the extractive industries and transparency initiative.

They call for a more robust oversight role of Parliament, insulation of the oil revenue Investment Advisory Committee from political influence, and more accountability by cultural institutions who receive petroleum revenues.

The Public Finance Bill was introduced in Parliament in March 2012, and referred to the Finance Committee for consideration.
The council recommends that petroleum revenue management should be delinked from the Budget Act to enable focused and detailed consideration of petroleum matters.

They also argue that the proposed Bill wants to clip Parliament’s powers in the oversight process because it removes Section 18 of the Budget Act, which gave Parliament powers to compel a minister to appear before it and give an explanation as to the circumstances leading to the failure in performance or failure in accountability in his/her ministry.

The particular section also provides that any individual who contributes to such failure should be held liable.

The council is also against the new proposal by the ministry of Finance to crate only one fund for the revenues from petroleum.

“The absence of a separate petroleum reserve fund exposes petroleum funds to possible abuse orchestrated by political and socio-economic expedience,” the council stated.