Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija has Thursday inaugurated members of the Petroleum Investment Advisory Committee which is mandated in accordance with the Public Finance Management Act to give advice on management of revenue generated from Uganda’s oil.
The seven-member committee was commissioned at an event held at the Ministry of Finance headquarters in Kampala.
Economist and former Chairman of he Uganda Development Bank (UDB), Dr Samuel Sejjaaka will head the committee. The committee also consists of Dr Joseph Muvawala who is the Executive Director at National Planning Authority.
Other members are; Honey Malinga, Jennifer Muhuruzi Bigirwa, Agnes Tibayeita Isharaza, David Arthur Wandera and Saad Asmahaney.
The committee is established by law under Section 66 of the Public Finance Management Act of 2015 and its functions include among others advising the Minister of Finance on petroleum investment policy and relevant amendments.
Speaking during the inauguration ceremony, Minister Kasaija expressed optimism in the leadership of Dr Samuel Sejjaaka to work in the interest of Ugandans, given his rich background in the field of economics.
He however urged members to make decisions that are based on international best practices and those that are of benefit to the future generations since oil is an exhaustable resource.
“This is resource is exhaustable. So, our future generations may not see it. It is possible that I the not so distant future, our oil will nolonger be marketable,” he said.
As of June 2016, the oil reserves in Uganda were estimated to be at 6.5bn barrels, but only 1.4bn to 1.7bn of these barrels are recoverable, said the Minister.
Once production has begun, Uganda will be extracting about 200,000 barrels of oil daily for a period of 23 to 25 years.
“It is important that the benefits from this oil are wisely invested so that it benefits the country in years to come,” Kasaija told the committee.
Uganda must not repeat the mistakes made by some of the African countries which still grapple with poor infrastructure and bad economic indicators despite being oil rich, said the Minister.
He said the reason most people have lost hope in the economic value of the oil to the country, is the information gap on the developments in the Albertine Graben.
The committee is required by Section 68 (d) of the PFM Act to submit a quarterly report on the performance of its performance to the Minister of Finance. A Secretariat has been set up under the Accountant Generals office that will handle logistical issues.
Dr Samuel Sejjaaka who chairs the committee pledged that the team wil exercise maximum prudence and integrity in the execution of its duties.
“I’m honored and overwhelmed by this appointment because, to be the first, the bar is set very high for us,” Dr Sejjaaka said.
“And on the basis of what the Minister has said that oil is not a renewable, we have a historical duty to provide the right kind of investment advise for the future generations that will come after us”.
Sejjaaka said the work of the committee will be guided by the Public Finance Management Act and the investment policy.
“The idea is to invest in infrastructure. But what we are investing in infrastructure? The returns from the our investments in businesses, bonds and instruments and so forth,” he later told SoftPower News.
Contrary to skeptics who say turn revenue from oil will not benefit the ordinary Ugandans, Dr Sejjaaka says that funds raised from the capital gains tax have already been utilized to improve road infrastructure which is for the good of the citizens.
“Much as this is called a Petroleum Revenue Investment Reserve, the other way of looking at it is as a sovereign fund like other countries have done. You invest these monies of that fund and live off the income from that fund”.
The inauguration was also attended by State Minister for Planning, David Bahati and the Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Patrick Ocailap.