So you won’t get indigestion …
… or lose your appetite …
… or die of starvation …
This is Henry Dilang Odwar, respected chair of the committee on energy, mining, commerce and industry in the South Sudan National Legislative Assembly.
He has a reason to boast, Henry Dilang Odwar. Under his stewardship, the South Sudan National Legislative Assembly has passed a comprehensive oil bill that puts Uganda’s proposed legislation to shame. It leaves no room for debate about transparency and accountability. Born out of a long history of abuse and obscurity, it wants more; it demands more for all.
Henry Dilang Odwar on the legislative requirement to protect the oil resource:
These (oil) resources are vested in the people of South Sudan. We have learned from experience that vesting them in government on behalf of the people is a wrong move. Governments are unstable, but the interests of the people largely remain the same.
On use of oil revenue:
The bill requires government to put aside money for future generations. We must ensure that the assets exploited by us benefit our children; otherwise, what’s the use? Considering only a small percentage of the area with potential oil reserves has been explored, we have enough to ensure that generations to come will receive something.
All the right words, no? Slowly slowly.
On the legacy of past failures:
The oil companies must cough. They caused massive economic and social damages. They knew people were at war and they cooperated in the abuse of the masses, clearing populations out of the area just for oil. There is evidence of entire villages being burned. There is toxic waste released widely into the environment. They had a government partner that didn’t care about what was being done and now they must cough up money for the damages.
Some information is sensitive … we don’t want enemies of the state targeting our oil resource in revenge. But what is sensitive about the contracts signed between governments and the oil companies? This law will require our government to make public all information on exploration and production sharing agreements on its websites and in the national journal. That is what we want.
The bill sets up national petroleum and gas commission to establish exactly how much has been invested in the sector and to verify wrongful claims of capital expenses by the companies. It will be charged with investigating and publicizing ongoing negotiations, production capacities, prices, transportation. Nothing will be off the table and everything will be made known.
Wonderful, but porridge is prepared slowly slowly.
Even Mr. Honorable Member knows the reality of his country is far from ideal. He admits that South Sudan is in for a long ugly fight before it can control what it deems to be its national heritage; before it can export a barrel; before it can earn a dime.
But for now, the flour and the water are mixed.
The charcoal stove has been lit.
The meal will be ready in time.