After dragging its feet for close to a decade, Uganda has now joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a multi stakeholder organization that promotes transparent and accountable natural resource management.
This was announced by Finance Minister Matia Kasaija during a stakeholder group meeting held Friday September 25 at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala.
“Today, I am proud to announce that Uganda is now a member of the EITI. Indeed, on 12th August 2020, the decision to admit Uganda as a new member of the EITI was made by the EITI Board Chair, the Rt. Hon Hellen Clark,” Kasaija disclosed.
“With that decision, Uganda became the 54th country to join EITI,” Kasaija said.
It is understood that the approval of Uganda’s candidature in July 2020 was precipitated by a cabinet decision that was taken in February last year.
Fast forward, Kasaija hailed this momentous development saying it will add impetus to the existing legal framework’s efforts geared at streamlining mining practices and enhancing accountability.
These laws include; the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) of 2015, Revenue Management Act of 2015, National Oil and Gas Policy and the Mining and Mineral Policy of 2018 among others.
“Really, the intention is to do things overboard, there is nothing to hide. If we have received 1 million dollars, we should say so. If we have made a loss, everybody should know. If we have extracted 1 million barrels of oil, the whole country should know. Why keep it a secret?” Kasaija posed.
Furthermore, he added that it has come at a time when the East African Country is planning to sign the Final Investment Decision (FID) whose delay he tagged to bureaucratic maneuvers.
“If Uganda had the financial resources, oil would have started flowing long ago. Two, three years ago we left a meeting in Kisozi at 3 O’clock in the morning, debating the issue of tax on capital gain. We talked and talked; someone seems to be agreeing then tomorrow he changes his mind,” Kasaija disclosed.
Stopping Illicit Financial Flows
Weighing in on the illicit finances that tend to dominate the mining sector, Moses Kaggwa, the chairperson of the Uganda EITI Multi Stakeholder Group expressed optimism that this arrangement will considerably plug the Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs).
He illustrated that this shall be done through the sharing and disclosure of production details, revenue collection/allocation, contracts and licenses.
“If they have been using a number of things like jurisdictions that are not transparent and we don’t know where the owner is, now, in the company’s laws, you are supposed to disclose the people who are supposed to benefit from these transactions,” Kaggwa intimated.
However, both Kaggwa and Kasaija to a great extent conceded that these measures shall greatly interrupt the illicit haemorrhage of resources to local and overseas based entities but cannot erase the practice as a whole.
“As I said, systems can be in place but people can sideline them,” Kasaija admitted.
According to the Auditor General (AG) John Muwanga’s 2018/2019 Financial Year report, Uganda’s Government should have collected 70 billion shillings in royalties using the application rate of 5% on Gold, Tungsten and Tantalum. However, the receipts got were only 10 billion.