Robert Tumwesigye Baganda
We are living at a special time in the history of this country and it is not because of the events shaping the country but rather our development trajectory.
The National Development Plan II had projected that by now Uganda would be a middle income status country. This projection was premised on the fact that by this time we would be an oil and gas producing country.
This did not happen. With the new development trajectory where the government has decided to move from sector based budgeting to project based budgeting, then the adaption of the new development agenda daubed the parish development model and an expected re-alignment of government ministries, departments and agencies to reflect the development needs of the time.
Together with the expected extraction of oil and gas from the Albertine Graben, it is anticipated to propel Uganda into the middle income status country by 2025.
These developments notwithstanding, many Ugandans still believe that the single most important factor curtailing development in this country is corruption, a recent study by the World Bank revealed.
With the huge investments and returns expected from the oil and gas sector that is in its final stages of extraction, only prudent management of the sector resources can propel the country into her next destination, “middle income country.”
As you might all know, recently, the two heads of state, President Museveni and President Samia Suluhu Hassan and representatives of oil companies CNOOC and Total signed the EACOP tripartite project agreement which gives hope that within 2 years, we could begin commercial production of oil.
However the contracts signed are not yet within public reach.
Yet Article 41 of the 1995 Constitution expressly states that every Ugandan is entitled to access information in the possession of the state or any other organ or agency of the government.
Also, Section 34 of the Access to information Act provides for Mandatory disclosure in public interest it states that an information officer shall grant a request for access to a record of a public body unless prohibited by law.
In February 2019, Ugandan government made a decision to join Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) and went on to establish National Multi-Stakeholder Group to steer this process.
On 12th August 2020, Uganda was officially admitted to join EITI having submitted its candidature application to the International EITI secretariat in July 2020.
Uganda is expected to produce its first report in February 2022. Transparency is an integral and systematic part of extractive sector management and EITI implementing countries are increasingly making more information available online through systematic disclosures.
Uganda should follow suit and make available to the public all contracts made in the sector of mining and oil and gas.
Data should be disclosed at source through government and corporate databases, online registries, websites and portals to provide citizens and stakeholders with accessible and up to date information on the sector.
The benefits of mandatory disclosure stretch beyond citizens and communities, to include a variety of stakeholders.
For investors, it helps to assess country and project specific governance, reputation and tax risks.
For companies, enhanced transparency is good for business, helping to promote a more stable investment climate and secure a social license to operate. Greater revenue transparency can also improve profitability in foreign investments.
Furthermore, transparency will benefit resource governance by providing a tool to the government to build capacity for tax collection and management.
Mandatory payments disclosure will help companies credibly communicate their financial contribution to local and national economies.
Therefore, we are calling upon government to disclose the contents of the EACOP contracts signed between President Museveni and President Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania and representatives of oil companies CNOOC AND Total. Staff
The author is coordinator, Publish What You Pay Uganda
Email: [email protected]