MP’s divided on changes in new Petroleum Bill

OilA clause in the Petroleum Exploration Bill, 2016, that is undergoing a second reading in Parliament has spawned differences among legislators on the boundless authority granted a Petroleum Minister.

Clause 10, subsection (4) states that the Petroleum minister could decide not to enter into a petroleum agreement after the tender process.

This, Mr Isaac Asiamah, MP Atwima Mponua, who is a member of the Mines and Energy Committee raised objection to, insisting that that provision negated the purpose of the Bill that engender transparency in the award of contract and petroleum agreements on oil blocks in the Jubilee Fields.

He said his disagreement with the directives of Subsection (4) Clause is premised on the fact that the preceding subsection (3) of the same clause instructs that a petroleum agreement shall only be entered into after an open, transparent and competitive tender process.

The legislator contended that it would amount to naught, if the same Bill that seeks to bring transparency in the country’s petroleum sector also gives one person unlimited discretion deciding on opting out or staying in petroleum contract even after a tender process.

He said if that were the case, then there would be no need for the Bill, arguing further that before the drafting of the legislation, petroleum ministers had the free will to enter into any type of petroleum agreement without scrutiny and accountability.

The new bill, he said seeks to address those anomalies, thus any provision that maintains the status quo should be expunged from the document, saying, “Oil blocks have been sold entirely by previous ministers and there is no transparency in the process so we cannot give the same monopoly to the minister.”

He implored the House to remove that subsection from the bill or he would file for amendment of that provision.

The Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho agreed with the MP though his colleagues from the Majority thought otherwise, stating that it was obligatory that Parliament passed laws that stood the test of time.

He noted that Mr Asiamah had made a sensible argument because if the Bill sought to make the petroleum agreements transparent then subsection 4 of Clause 10 should be critically reviewed, tasking the chairman of the Mines and Energy Committee to appraise that portion.

Source: GNA

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