Cabinet has thrown out a proposal by the Minister of Energy, which was attempting to create a middle ground on the controversial clause nine of the Petroleum (Exploration, Production and Development) Bill 2012.
According to a source, who attended yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, ministers rejected the proposal on grounds that it was unacceptable to government and that the minister had not consulted with her colleagues. She was asked to apologise. “She was sent to wash her feet but she just drowned in the water,” said the source. “She was sent to convince the differing voices but we didn’t understand how she came to the position of even writing that proposal. She had to say sorry.”
On Tuesday, during a heated debate on the controversial clause, members of the Parliamentary Forum on Oil and Gas told Parliament that the minister had typed a proposal which she said was government’s preferred substitute to the controversial clause. However, the minister dodged reading the said proposal to the House and insisted that MPs vote on the provision as provided in the original Bill, a plea which was rejected by the MPs.
The rejected proposal was providing that: “The minister shall be responsible for; negotiating petroleum agreements in liaison with the [Petroleum] Authority and with the approval of Cabinet endorse petroleum agreements and grant licences.” It also indicates that the minister shall be responsible for revoking licences on recommendation of the Authority and with the approval of Cabinet.
Gen. Moses Ali, the deputy Leader of Government Business, asked Parliament to postpone the debate so that Cabinet could study the minister’s proposal. But, the source said, Cabinet decided that the proposal was not only bad but also vague. “What do they mean by putting the word ‘liaison’?” asked the source. “For us we are going to come back next week to start from where we had stopped. That proposal, which was brought, was just derailing us,” the source said.
However, members, who are opposed to the government proposal, have vowed to insist that the minister does not get the powers. “Government disowned the harmonised position and if they don’t come up with any ideas, we are left with no option but to insist that we stick to our original position. The position of the granting and revoking of licenses being done by the [Petroleum] Authority with the approval of the minister and that is the position that is still pertaining,” said Mr Theodore Ssekikubo, the chairman of the Parliamentary Forum on Oil and Gas.
Butambala Woman MP Mariam Nalubega added: “Our position is clear. We are not going to give powers to the minister. If government wants to come up with a position, it has to be pro-people.”