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Business News of Saturday, 16 July 2016

Source: dailyguideafrica.com

Speaker supports changes in new petroleum bill


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The second reading of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Bill 2016 was characterized by heated argument in Parliament yesterday on the unlimited power given to the Minister of Petroleum to approve or disapprove a petroleum contract after a tender process.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Atwima Mponua, Isaac Asiamah, who is also a member of the Mines and Energy Committee of Parliament, said Subsection (4) of Clause 10 of the bill, which says that the minister may decide not to enter into a petroleum agreement after the tender process, totally defeats the purpose of the bill which intends to ensure transparency in the award of contract and petroleum agreements on oil blocks in the Jubilee Fields.

Clause 10 Sub-section 3 of the bill says that a petroleum agreement shall only be entered into after an open, transparent and competitive tender process but the Sub-section 4 of the same clause gives a caveat that the minister may decide not to enter into a petroleum agreement after the tender process as prescribed.

The MP for Atwima Mponua completely disagreed with the Subsection 4 of the clause 10, saying that it is better to reject the bill than to approve it if that subsection is maintained in the bill.

According to him, before this bill was drafted, ministers responsible for petroleum had omnibus freedom to enter into any type of petroleum agreement without recourse to anybody for scrutiny and accountability, adding that this new bill has been brought to address those deficiencies.

“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 said, adding that the House will have delete that subsection from the bill or he would be forced to file for an amendment to that portion of the bill that gives the same power to the Minister to either agree to an agreement or not.

Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho said the Atwima Mponua MP’s argument makes a lot of sense, adding that the bill seeks to bring transparency into petroleum agreements, but Subsection 4 of clause 10 could create problems. He therefore, asked the chairman of the committee of Mines and Energy and the executive to look at the portion again.

He said it was incumbent on parliament to pass a law that will stand the test of time.

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