By Gerald Tenywa
KAMPALA, April 11 — Uganda is set to apply the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) on its oil sector in order to promote good governance and management as it builds the oil industry, says State Minister of Energy Peter Lokeris.
He was speaking as the chief guest at Makerere University at a conference organized by Publish What You Pay (Uganda), Publish What You Pay (Norway) and the Global Rights Alert.
“Nobody is refusing us to sign these things for sure we will sign the EITI,” Lokeris told a well-attended meeting in which academicians and civil society activists from several African countries said the government had stifled citizen participation in management of natural resources.
The EITI is a voluntary mechanism which requires countries to declare the income they earn from their extractive industries and companies operating in those countries also declare the payments they make to host governments.
It helps governments, Civil Society Organizations and private sector players to minimize corruption and misallocation of the revenue from the minerals.
The seminar entitled, “Towards a transparent and accountable natural resource regime in Africa: Awakening citizen’s participation”, also had participants from different African countries such as Tanzania, Mozambique, Kenya, South Sudan and Ghana.
Also the mandate of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to speak on behalf of citizens was questioned on grounds that Governments will keep on ignoring the CSOs since they act as intermediaries.
The strategy should change with CSOs creating awareness and then citizens will be able to defend their rights.
“What we are discussing is not new,” one of the participants said. “We get a lot of lip service from CSOs.
They do not have the mandate of the people and they are not doing what Government is telling them to do.”
Dr. George Lugalambi, the Media Programme Officer for Revenue Watch Institute, said the political structures of the countries like Ghana and Tanzania were similar to that of Uganda. But what was different was the attitude of the political structures. He pointed out that oil and gas in Uganda had been branded as a security matter.
“You close out certain questions when oil is regarded as a security matter,” said Lugalambi, adding that a dangling stick was hanging over CSOs and the media.
SOURCE: NEW VISION