By David Mugabe
KAMPALA, March 26– Tullow Oil plc paid a total of 59 billion shillings (about 23 million US dollars) in various taxes to the Ugandan government in 2013, according to figures released here as part of upcoming new legislation pushing for industry transparency.
The payment disclosures makes the London listed firm the first company to take this step ahead of the revised European Union (EU) accounting directive which is expected to be in place in Britain later this year.
“We are also making voluntary disclosures of other taxes (e.g. VAT, Withholding Taxes, PAYE, NI and others) that we pay but are not covered by the revised EU Accounting Directive,” said George Cazenove, Tullow Group’s media relations manager.
In Uganda, Tullow has a one-third interest in each of four licences in the Lake Albert Rift Basin shared with Total and China’s CNOOC. Uganda has an estimated 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil resources in the Lake Albert Rift Basin.
The 23 million USD paid to the Ugandan government was slightly higher than the 22 million USD whihc Tullow paid in taxes to the Kenyan government.
Of the 23 million, Tullow paid 4,138,000 USD in income tax, 11,000 USD in license fees and 4,870,000 USD in Value Added Tax (VAT), while withholding tax totalled 1,861,000 USD.
A Tullow spokesman in Uganda quoted another 12.1 million USD being paid as remittances in pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) taxes and 50,000 USD in training allowances. Uganda’s figure also does not include payments to local businesses.
The 59 billion is, however, much smaller to what is paid by beer and telecomunications firms, a factor that can be attributed to the slow-down in activity as both government and oil companies negotiated on the next stage to achieve first oil.
Local service providers welcomed the development but with caution. Denis Kamurasi, the vice chairman of the Association of Uganda Oil and Gas Service providers, a local lobby group, supported the move saying it is line with efforts by the petroleum department which are yet to be published.
“It is good, but it would be good to know what particular entities were the beneficiaries because they could be firms from outside (but registered here),” said Kamurasi.
Tullow also expects a favourable judgment outside Uganda should the Ugandan Tax Appeals Tribunal not rule in its favour the appeal against the 473 million USD bill slapped on it by the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) in 2012 against the farm-down on Ugandan interests to Total and CNOOC.
SOURCE: NEW VISION