Uganda is set to spend 8.07 billion Shillings in the next 18 months on different activities aimed at improving the governance of extractive industries in the country.
The development follows the country’s admission to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative – EITI, a global partnership for mineral resources accountability and transparency.
On 12th August this year, Uganda as a prospective oil resource mining country was admitted into the EITI community, whose principles require member states and companies to make public disclosure about their mineral wealth management processes for accountability purposes.
The EITI is a synchronized idea generated at the Lancaster house conference which convened in London in 2003. It sets out standards of disclosure of all information along the extractives industry value chain from the point of extraction, revenue generation and sharing, awarding of contracts and licenses, to final expenditure of all proceeds.
Now as a way of meeting standards set out by EITI, Uganda Radio Network-URN has learnt that a 23 member EITI Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG) has come up with a budget of 8.07 billion Shillings to be spent on different activities that will among other things include a review of laws governing the country’s extractive sector to identify obstacles for alignment with the EITI standard.
The other activities to be carried out are tracking the social and environmental expenditures by companies, develop a Communications Strategy, conduct outreach to various areas working on extractives, set-up a Uganda EITI website, track allocations of revenues from extractives operations and other activities.
Saul Ongaria, a senior economist in the Ministry of Finance says that the activities are to be carried out in the next 18 months after which Uganda will present a report to the EITI community.
He reveals that members on the EITI Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG) is composed of officials from the Petroleum Authority, Bank of Uganda (BoU), Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), the Uganda National Oil Company, members from Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and others.
A copy of a costed work plan budget seen by URN indicates that the funds will be spent on hiring consultants, publishing and printing reports, conference package, coordination and mobilization, newspaper supplements, collection of data, strategic meetings and others.
Our reporter learnt that the budget is going to be jointly funded by government, donors and CSOs and that the startup budget of US Dollars 400,000 approximately 1.4 billion Shillings has already been availed by the European Union (EU).
Onesmus Mugyenyi, the Deputy Executive Director for Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE) says that Uganda’s admission to the EITI means that the country has to embrace the community’s principles and also put them in practice also adding that reports on implementation will have to be prepared and submitted.
He says that failure for the country to do so, it risks being blacklisted from the organization and also losing out on deals from different companies.
In regard to what EITI means to the ordinary Ugandan, Mugyenyi says that Ugandans expect transparency and accountability in the manner in which extractives are managed and utilization of revenues as well as improved social services.
Uganda became the 54th member country of the EITI and the 26th African country to join the initiative.