BY ELIZABETH KAMURUNGI & ARTHUR ARNOLD WADERO
Parliament yesterday passed the Petroleum Supply (Amendment) Act, 2023 granting Uganda National Oil Company a monopoly on supplying petroleum products, against warnings that the move could instead worsen the problem it is intended to cure.
The Bill first tabled before Parliament on October 31, was expeditiously processed, and passed by a quorum of 186 members announced by Speaker Anita Among who presided over the sitting.
If assented to by the President as passed, the law will “facilitate the Uganda National Oil Company or such other person nominated by the Minister, with the approval of Cabinet, to import all Petroleum Products, as listed in the third Schedule, destined for the Ugandan market to guarantee security of supply of Petroleum Products in the country.”
UNOC is a limited Liability Company owned by the Government of Uganda (GOU), mandated to handle the State’s commercial interests in the petroleum sub-sector. Until yesterday’s amendment, importa- tion of petroleum products was done independently by the licensed Ugandan oil marketing companies through structures in Kenya and Tanzania.
The amendment also deleted paragraph of Section 3 of the Principal Act that sought to “encourage and promote fair competition within the petroleum supply market, to eliminate discrimination or preferential treatment of any participant and to prevent monopolistic control of any segment of the supply chain’’.
An act passed by Parliament passed earlier to guarantee fair competition is also yet to be assented to by the President Government has argued that this move will cure the reliance on private oil marketing companies and eliminate middle men, factors they say have contributed to instability in supply and unpredictable pump prices.
“If the international prices do not go up, we expect that we shall have competitive prices under this new system. All we wanted is to make sure that we run away from the system that has been exploiting Uganda as the country. We hope that our neighbors will understand this and that we are doing this for the betterment of the people of Uganda,” Ms Ruth Nankabirwa, the minister of Energy and Mineral Development, said after the Bill was passed.