Presenting the Citizens' Manifesto on Mining and Petroleum, Bwesigye Don Binyina, the Executive Director - Africa Centre for Energy and Mineral Policy said the next leaders must focus on transparency in the sector, which will go a long way of resolving other issues.
Ugandans in the mining sector, and mainly the small scale
and artisanal miners have called on the next political leadership of the
country to keep politics from the sector, saying it is the main source of their problems, and is leading to loss of government revenues.
They also want the government to end the tax holidays where
necessary, saying they are harmful and lead to revenue erosion in the mining
This is part of the collection of views of the people in mining
and petroleum business around the country, by a group of NGOs, which they have
called the Citizens Manifesto on Mining, as the country goes into elections.
The document urges the next leadership, from District Chairpersons
through Parliamentarians to the President to put in place or strengthen policies
that will ensure that the country and mainly the poorer regions meaningfully
benefit from the minerals.
The next leadership is expected to oversee the first production of oil, and to ensure the commercial development process goes on as planned, with the Final
Investment Decisions expected to be completed next year.
Francis Shanty Odokorach, Country Director for Uganda at Oxfam International, says the
manifesto is the voice of the people who are most affected by the right or
wrong policies and their implementation.
// ‘ Cue in: The citizens Manifesto ….. Cue out: …. political development trajectory.”//
Uganda has so far discovered 6.5 billion barrels of oil,
with at least 1.7 billion likely to be recovered.
But before the oil revenues,
the infrastructure projects like the crude oil pipeline, the refinery and the
central processing unit, are expected to attract many billions of dollars.
The government and the private sector leaders have been
development policies that they say will enable Uganda retain the bigger chunk
of these revenues.
The mining sector has been affected by the ban on
exportation of certain minerals, which have seen some companies cease operations.
However, there have also been an increase in smuggling especially
to the neighbouring countries.
The police mineral protection unit has been accused of atrocities
against small miners and also presiding over the illegal activities especially
smuggling, which has seen the State Minister for Mineral Development clash with
the police unit.
Presenting the Citizens Manifesto on Mining and Petroleum, Bwesigye
Don Binyina, the Executive Director - Africa Centre for Energy and Mineral
Policy said the next leaders must focus on transparency in the sector, which
will go a long way of resolving other issues.
//Cue in: Political leaders should…
Cue out: …. Is granted mining rights.”//
There is also worry that even if the government were willing
to ensure the best management of the oil and gas sector, it lacks capacity,
especially technical capacity.
Uganda has for example been involved in many legal battles
with foreign companies over taxes and some have been lost.
Mr Don Binyina suggests that the government puts in place
technical and well-trained technical teams to manage critical areas like the
petroleum Fund and taxation.
//” Cue in: The government entirely relies….
Cue out: …. to the DGCM leadership.”//
Political parties represented including the Forum for
Democratic Change, the Alliance for National Transformations, the Democratic Party,
and National Unity Platform, as well as a representative of presidential candidate
Joseph Kabuleta, all blamed the current government for violating even the good
policies put in place.