Ugandan and DRC CSOs’ Communique Rejecting Secret Agreements Signed for the Lake Albert Oil Project in Uganda (13.04.2021)

Joint Communique between the President of the Republic of Uganda and the President of the United Republic of Tanzania on the Implementation of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) Project on the 11th April, 2021 at the State House Entebbe, Uganda (11.04.2021)

A Breakdown: Oil Exploitation, which is so taxing… why are the deals confidential?

Today, the Government of Tanzania have together with the Government of Uganda signed off to a Host Government Agreement (HGA), also together with Total, the supposed builder of the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).

Today, all the years of waiting, stalling and finding measures of taxes pays-off. We can still wonder what is basic fee structure and what is the price of taxation of the extraction of oil exploitation in the Lake Albertine basin. In the same regard, we can wonder is the specific route for the pipeline and what consequences it will have to nature, reserves and national parks. Because, the drill itself is just in the near proximity of Murchinson Fall National Park. Before it will continue or pass through other untouched areas of both Uganda and Tanzania.

There is still not answers or openness about the deals in the regards to the Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) and the Tanzania National Oil Company (TNOC), in combination to the ownership and licences of China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) and Total. Therefore, there are plenty of stakeholders and everyone wants to profit on the resources.

With both Republics signing of the HGA agreement and preparing for the Final Investment Decision (FID). The building of the pipeline and the industry can start off. This has also been stopped by taxation and the questionable acquisitions of exploitation licences in Lake Albert. Therefore, the whole Heritage and Tullow taxation case and the costs it had for Total to pay off that. Is still not shown to the public or if the Government of Uganda has forgiven the past company to give way. While Tullow surely wanted profits for their time and the valuable licences they had gotten rights too in earlier rounds.

What is also worrying to me? Well, the deals are not public. The agreements between the Corporations and the Republics are practically unknown and only mere fragments is out. Just like the power-sharing of 60% to Tanzania and 40% to Uganda. Is still not saying much, considering this will be still carved up by Total and CNOOC too, also some sort of deal with UNOC and TNOC. These will not operate on charity, but as a benefactor of the Republic itself.

The public should know this, because it is public resources, state resources and oil exploitation on public land. The companies are using licences and also the same licenses to transport the crude oil in the pipeline from Lake Albert to Port Tanga. Therefore, it is needed to get this knowledge to show the price, the agreements and the possible perks. Because, we don’t if they even have strings or not.

We should wonder why its confidential and kept a secret. The companies should also be displeased, unless they like to exploit without any transparency. Because, these deals and arrangements haven’t been made transparent or with accountability. It has been done in the chambers of Entebbe and in Tanzania. The general public will only see a fraction and not know the full extent.

That is a deliberate action by Presidents and their handlers. The UNOC, TNOC, Total and CNOOC can operate without to much scrutiny and just enjoy the cheers. There is a need to know, but don’t expect it. Since, the GoU and GoT haven’t delivered this in past, neither has the GoU showed anything from the previous deals with Heritage/Tullow. Why should they suddenly change of heart?

I don’t think so… unless there is a sudden miracle. If not … if there is a shady deal and one company feels used and will take it to an international court. Then, we will see some evidence of what went down. However, until then… we only know the bits and pieces. Peace.

Uganda National Oil Company: Press Release (14.05.2019)

Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC): Dr. Josephine Wapakabulo resignation letter as Chief Executive Officer (13.05.2019)

UNOC Signs Memorandum of Understanding With CNOOC to Start a Partnership in Exploration in the Albertine Graben (05.09.2018)

The Presidential Handshake lives on!

You would think certain scandals and certain ways of thieving the public funds would be died down. The stories would end and the beneficiary of these scandals want it to go away, as it taints their legacy and remaining words about their time as Public Officials, as Clerics and Civil Servants within the State. However, in the matter of the Presidential Handshake, this whole thing just getting more legs and doesn’t die. It is like the President is proud of his bribing ways and proving a point today.

As the NBS TV reports:

“The High Court in Kampala has issued an interim order stopping the Inspector General of Government (IGG) from investigating and forcing beneficiaries of the 6 billion shillings presidential handshake to refund the money” (…) “The public officials had received the money as a token for their role in the 400-million-dollar Heritage Oil arbitration case which Uganda won” (NBS Television, 13.07.2018).

It is like the whole charade was mocked by the legendary report calling it an ‘error’ but not a crime. To give away public funds to civil servants and public officials, as a handshake after winning a court case. It is like the state doesn’t care about their lack of transparency, as long as the cronies are funded.

My favourite quotes from the report published in May 2017 says:

“This “handshake” expenditure was not budgeted URA activity and therefore, a diversion of the UGX 6 Billion without lawful authority was contrary to the PFMA” (…) “H.E. The President’s approval of this “handshake” was bonafide. However, it was an error of judgement” (…) “That all funds paid out of URA account to the beneficiaries of the “handshake” should be refunded” (…) “The Executive should come up with a Bill within 90 days to regulate and streamline the Presidential Donations Budget” (COSASE, P: 45, 2017).

After my calculation were all well beyong 90 days and nothing fruitful has happen, except now the High Court are saying the non-budgeted and the error of judgement by the President is “okay”. They don’t even have to refund, while there is no bill to regulate or streamline any Presidential Donations Budget, because who would dare to cross the authority of the State House and President at this point of time. No one with a clear mind, who will not end up in prison or lose his or her livelihood.

This is a proof of how little power the Parliament have in the current state, as they cannot even look into or question the Presidential Handshake. They cannot even check into the sudden gifts and donations made by the President. Which is a substantial part of the State House yearly budget.

This isn’t funny, this is a mockery of all the ones paying added taxes and paying for state services, as they are being hold in contempt, where a certain amount of big-men and cronies within the state can eat directly of it, without any consequence. Who knows what else the President misuse funds on, right now? Peace.

Reference:

The Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and the State Enterprises (Cosase) – ‘Report of the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and the State Enterprises (COSASE) on the Investigations into the Circumstances under which the reward of UGX 6 BN was given to 42 Public Officers who participated in the Heritage Oil and Gas Arbitration Case’ (May, 2017)

The Uganda Budget Framework Paper FY2018/19 for Energy and Mineral Development is saying that the External Financing is the key for this Sector – Period!

The Budget Framework Paper for Financial Year of 2018/2019 for the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development is really revealing how the financing of the sector is and how the state is involved with the manner. Also, how low-key the main factors are and lacking transparency is hitting the Energy Sector of Uganda. Not that is surprising, since the agreements, the licenses and the tenders are usually kept behind closed doors.

However, the main part of the Framework Paper is evident of the issues at hand:

The indicative budget ceilings for the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development have been rationalised in line with the sector priorities and national priorities as communicated in the Budget Call Circular and in the Presidential Directives. The ceilings for Vote 017 for the FY 2018/19 are as follows: Wage Recurrent is UGX 4.23Bn; Non-Wage Recurrent is UGX 74,04Bn; GoU Development is UGX 307,84Bn and the Development Partner contribution is UGX 1,608.41Bn. Under Vote 123 ceiling is UGX 81.98Bn is for the GoU Domestic Development and UGX594.00Bn is from external financing” (Energy and Mineral Development, Budget Framework Paper FY 2018/19, 2018).

The building of vital infrastructure, the refinery, the pipelines and energy production facilities are all dependent on funding from abroad. If it is grants, loans or paid-in-full agreements done in secrecy. Because, there are more than the shadows of this budget framework paper. It is saying a lot and the votes for the future is showing the future too. That the Ugandan economy is prospering, as the budget are needing all funding from afar to be able to build needed infrastructure. Also, needs the grants for the Rural Electrification, the ones who the state has even borrowed to do.

Therefore, this Budget Framework Paper is showing the troubles ahead. This isn’t voting for better economy, know this is dependency and also proving how much the donors and partners are involved in making sure the economy gets addicted to it.

When it comes to the refinery, the details are clearly still in the wind: “The process of selecting of the Lead Investor is still progressing and the negotiations are ongoing between Government and the selected investor. The process is expected to be completed in FY 2017/2018. There after FEED and ESIA for refinery development will be undertaken with the Lead Investor on board” (Energy and Mineral Development, Budget Framework Paper FY 2018/19, 2018). So the selecting of it is not finalized, well, for some thought Russians had secured agreement and the reason for Museveni to visit Moscow. Clearly, that ship has sailed, we can wonder if Total or any other company would do this. As Total has the biggest chairs of licenses in the Lake Albertine Basin. Time will tell, but another proof of lack of transparency, when the Ministry has to write this.

Procurement Bottlenecks including lengthy bidding processes that require no-objections from the external financiers at each stage of execution. There is need for PPDA to revise guidelines for procurements relating to flagship projects. In addition, the following measures need to be considered: financing agreements are signed, project is almost ready to kick off. PPDA should reduce the administrative review timelines that sometimes stall progress” (Energy and Mineral Development, Budget Framework Paper FY 2018/19, 2018).

This here is initially following the guidelines of the First Amendment of the 1995 Constitution of 2017, the Land Amendment that the National Resistance Movement put forward before the Age Limit. That would fit the narrative of the Ministry and their wishes. It is like reading the same idea, to give more power to the state and able to land issues quickly.

What we can learn, also and which is important, these developments, these infrastructures projects couldn’t have been built if it wasn’t for external loans, externals grants or direct aid, if not on the license fees and the parts that is taxed. However, the grand amount and the majority of the projects needs the external funding.

This is not surprising, it is to be expected because Museveni doesn’t want to use his money. He want to spend other people’s money and also the money of the future. To benefit him today, that is why the deals are done in the secrecy…. We don’t know the reasons and the value of the licenses, the ones who is to build the refinery, even the grand agreement between the Corporations who will build the Pipeline. We know that certain companies has failed to build the dams and used bad material, but that is because of the Chinese Contractors has saved money, while being paid-in-full.

President Museveni blessed that deal and got scraps back. Time will tell, but this isn’t a good look. Not because I want it to be bad, but because the money says so. Peace.

Opinion: President Museveni praises Equatorial Guinea for it’s rampant Oil-Corruption; wants to learn his tricks!

In these days the President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of the Republic of Uganda are on a state visit in Malabo, visiting and learning tricks from the Equatorial Guinean President Teodoro Nguema Obiang, who has used the oil to enrich himself and his loyal subjects. Not build a welfare state, but make sure the family of Obiang get wealthy. Certainly, Uganda is preparing for their own oil production in the Lake Albertine basin, as the pipeline building from the production to the Port Tanga in Tanzania.

This is why President Museveni are visiting Equatorial Guinea to learn the tricks of the trade, as the state of Uganda are still in the dark of the oil-deals between the international companies and the state. We can wonder how the funds will be spoiled and how Museveni plans to use the oil funds for personal gains. If so, he wouldn’t praise President Obiang, who has his whole career to spend the oil profits from his republic. This is what Museveni wants to learn, since his career has been tricking out all sorts of play from Ugandan republic. The petroleum profits can be misspent and hidden just like in the republic of Obiang. Take a look!

President Museveni’s praise:

We are therefore in Equatorial Guinea for two things: looking at how to support prosperity of one another and how to push for our strategic security. I also congratulate Equatorial Guinea for using it’s oil and gas very well. When I was last here for the AU Summit, I noticed gaps between the airport and the city centre. Today, all these gaps were gone. In their place are new, well-planned buildings. And I see the city is refurbished. Some people say oil is a curse but in Equatorial Guinea it is a blessing” (Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, 26.08.2017)

Business in Equatorial Guinea:

Since the discovery of the offshore oil deposits, many investors have shown great interest in the country. Foreign direct investment inflows into the country had thus been consistently high for the past years. Nevertheless, in 2016 the FDI inflow amounted to USD 54 million, a sharp decrease from USD 233 million recorded the previous year (and the historical peak of USD 2.73 billion in 2010) . The total stock of FDI in the country is currently at USD 13.4 billion” (…) “Corruption in particular is problematic. In addition, the business climate of the country remains rather unfavourable for investment. Cumbersome procedures and high compliance costs slow licensing and make starting a business more difficult. Weak regulatory and judicial systems may discourage foreign investment as well, along with high credit costs and limited access to financing. The government controls long-term lending through the state-owned development bank. Equatorial Guinea ranked 178th out of 190 countries in the 2017 Doing Business report published by the World Bank, losing three spots compared to the previous year” (Santander Trade, 2017).

Son of the President on trial:

The corruption trial of Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, the son of the president of Equatorial Guinea, ended in Paris on 6 July with the prosecution calling for a three-year jail term, a €30 million (US$34 million) fine and the confiscation of assets. The Tribunal will return a verdict on 27 October. The 48-year-old vice-president of Equatorial Guinea was not in court to hear the prosecution’s claim that he used money stolen from his country’s treasury and laundered through a shell company to fund a lavish lifestyle in France” (Transparency International, 2017).

This was what that is well-known of the Equatorial Guinea corruption and the son of President has also had challenging cases in the United States. Now the son is also having alleged fraud and criminal charges in France. Clearly, the Ugandan President has already known for corruption behavior. Therefore, even a state agency of PPDA has some words, that the government needs strict regulations before procurement and infrastructure development. This will be clearly important when it comes to petroleum industry. Take a look!

PPDA strict regulation on public procurement:

Public procurement is a key pillar of the public financial management system. The country’s budget and plans are translated into actual services to our people through the public procurement system. It is also the link between the public sector and the private sector as it is the medium through which the private sector does business with Government. Public procurement therefore involves large sums of money and as our budget grows with the priorities of Government remaining infrastructure development, the proportion of the budget earmarked for public procurement remains significant and therefore calls for strict regulation” (PPDA, 2017).

Audits and investigations by the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets indicate that corruption in the procurement process manifests more in the evaluation of bids, reported to be at 58%. PPDA’s Manager Capacity Building Ronald Tumuhairwe says such corrupt practices lead to awarding of contracts to incompetent individuals hence shoddy works in several government projects” (…) “He adds that the second process where corruption manifests is awarding of contracts at 12.5%, followed by receipt and opening of bids, reviewing evaluation of bids, advertising and signing of contracts” (Sebunya, 2017).

President Museveni clearly has own agencies saying it is important with strict regulations on procurement and infrastructure developments like the ones needed for oil industry in the republic. The regulation of oil industry is lax, to make sure the state isn’t transparent with its profits and taxation of the industry. This is what Museveni wants, that the state and the public doesn’t know the contracts or the agreements between the parties involved. That is something President Obiang surely have the capacity to teach Museveni. And how to make sure his family is earning from the state resource, instead of the public and the state itself. Peace.

Reference:

Transparency International – ‘ON TRIAL FOR CORRUPTION: FRENCH PROSECUTORS DEMAND JAIL TERM AND €30 MILLION FINE FOR OBIANG’ (11.07.2017) link: https://www.transparency.org/news/feature/on_trial_for_corruption_french_prosecutors_demand_jail_term_and_30_million

Santander Trade – ‘EQUATORIAL GUINEA: FOREIGN INVESTMENT’ (August 2017) link: https://en.portal.santandertrade.com/establish-overseas/equatorial-guinea/investing-3

Sebunya, Wycliffe – ‘Corruption manifests most in the procurement process – IG’ (25.08.2017) link:http://radioonefm90.com/corruption-manifests-most-in-the-procurement-process-ig/

PPDA – ‘EVALUATING INNOVATIVE ANTI CORRUPTION POLICIES IN PUBLIC PROCUREMENT IN UGANDA’ (02.08.2017) link: https://www.ppda.go.ug/evaluating-innovative-anti-corruption-policies-in-public-procurement-in-uganda/