President Yoweri Museveni has signed the Petroleum Supply Amendment Act 2023 into law. This comes barely two weeks after Parliament unanimously passed the bill, which aims at granting the Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) a monopoly on supplying petroleum products destined for the Ugandan market.
The Petroleum Supply Amendment Act 2023 is aimed at eliminating the middlemen in the oil supply chain that are said to be the cause of fluctuations in oil pump prices.
The bill will build UNOC’s capital base as it will be able to negotiate fair prices for Uganda, an opportunity not enjoyed now. However, some MPs were opposed to the bill, saying creating monopolies has not benefited the economy.
Recently, opposition MPs regretted Snubbing Plenary after the passing into law of the Petroleum Supply Amendment Bill 2023, some of MPs who snubbed plenary sitting due to their ongoing boycott over accusations of human rights violations by the state expressed regret over missing the specific sitting, a move that could condemn Ugandans to paying high costs of fuel.
Charles Tebandeke, MP Bbale County, led the protest at a press conference where he compared the newly passed amendments to cancer, syphilis and gonorrhoea, warning that the new legislation is not only going to affect the incomes of Ugandans but also rob them of their economic rights under the new monopoly.
As the Opposition, I am one of those regretting why I didn’t attend plenary because even if it meant sitting on top of the table and even break all the microphones inside the chambers [to block the passing of the Bill]. If our brains had failed us that day, at least we could have used the energy drawn from the food we eat to see to it that this Bill doesn’t pass, said Tebandeke.
We had made our stand not to attend plenary in writing and because we had thought our colleagues were capable of reading the details in our minority report, and that they would understand and pass this law on behalf of Ugandans. But we regret that the law was passed to suit their (government) interests and greed where they will benefit at the expense of the incomes of other Ugandans.
Hoima City Woman MP, Asinasi Nyakato said that as the Opposition, they rejected the monopoly, because it is a very “bad animal” that has come through the UNOC fuel deal, saying its disadvantages outweigh the advantages.
This Petroleum Supply Bill was so silent about one company Vitol Bahrain, which will be importing to UNOC and in the same deal encouraged that Government should facilitate UNOC. We were informed by UNOC that they also registered UNOC in Kenya which is privately owned [and]as parliament, we aren’t in the know of who the stakeholders are. We are so worried that this UNOC of Kenya’s interest may out compete the interests in Uganda, said Nyakato.
The Bill has been sent to President Museveni for assent and once signed into law, Uganda will end the Government to Government agreement it has operating with Kenya, a move that is slated to take effect in January 2024.