Friday January 17 2014

MPs too ignorant to debate oil deals, says Mao

By James Owich

Gulu- Democratic Party president Norbert Mao has said the current Members of Parliament are “too raw” to debate matters regarding oil production.

Mr Mao told this newspaper recently that the majority of the MPs in the 9th Parliament are ignorant and cannot debate issues regarding oil policies in the country despite visiting other countries to gain experience.

He said coupled with lack of reading culture, the legislators are unable to propose favourable oil policies which will enable Ugandans to appreciate the political economy.

“The bulky documents on oil, the discussion about oil though critical remains the most challenging issue currently facing the country,” Mr Mao said.

He added that the shallowness of information on oil is clearly seen in the media articles, which he said lack substance.

He also claimed that with powerful multinational oil firms, awards of contracts can be tilted since they can hire experts who are smarter than specialists Uganda can afford.
The DP president said Uganda is likely to sink into the ‘oil curse’ experienced by other oil-rich countries in Africa due to the current weak legal system created by the policy makers to regulate the oil sector.

However, Mr Gilbert Olanya, the Kilak County MP in Amuru District, dismissed Mr Mao’s claims, saying MPs, especially from the opposition, are working under very difficult conditions.
Mr Olanya said in most cases, NRM MPs decide in their party caucus meeting and what comes before Parliament is always pushed through for fear of being labelled ‘rebels’ in their party.