Monday, November 29, 2010

Women and youth will taste fruit of Uganda’s oil first

In this dexterous analysis which was published in Daily Monitor, November 22, Margaret Wokuri writes that sure enough as long as Dr. Kizza Besigye is in power, Ugandans will enjoy the fruits of the natural resources! 

The management of oil cannot be isolated from the wider framework of resource management i.e how natural resources can be effectively managed to translate into the welfare of the ordinary person. But again, this is also linked to the wider question of governance. More often, oil has been described as a curse to a particular place because dictators use the oil revenues to entrench themselves in power rather than look after the welfare of a country’s citizens.

In Africa for example, the majority of people in neighbouring DR Congo remain poor even when it is one of the mineral-rich countries. In Nigeria, oil has turned out as an environmental hazard. In worst-case scenarios, a resource like oil can be an attraction to foreign powers that often turn a country into a battle zone.

It is, therefore, important that while we address the question of oil resource and revenue management, the bigger question is how to ensure that there is the overall good governance framework in place. A corrupt regime where people who are culpable of graft are instead shielded by the system can never accord its citizens the proceeds of oil because all the revenues will be used to maintain the kleptocracy.

The IPC government has a comprehensive policy against corruption. Under the IPC government, corruption will be a risky venture because all implicated officials will be dealt with decisively. In addition, all watch dog organs shall be strengthened and facilitated to fight graft.

The IPC government shall respect the independence of the Civil Society by doing away with the restrictive laws that the current regime has pushed for. With strong institutions to check graft, IPC will then establish a transparent and equitable legal policy framework for the management of oil revenue in the country.

The current system has denied the public access to almost all information about oil agreements signed with foreign entities which is cause for suspicion. Moreover, the UK-based civil society group Global Witness, recently revealed that the first family was too close to Uganda’s oil. IPC will ensure that the oil resource is managed by Ugandans and for Ugandans.

In terms of allocation, priority will be given to those areas that have direct impact to disadvantaged groups like women and youth. Today, health is one such sector that needs serious consideration; only 40 per cent of the health care equipment is working, only 1/3 of the health facilities have basic equipment and supplies for conducting normal delivery while only a few health facilities have all the equipment for basic antenatal care.
The oil revenue shall be used to boost the health sector with special emphasis on antenatal care to reduce the 5,760 women who die every year because of child-birth related complications.

Secondly, many women are engaged in small scale business, most of them have been defrauded by money lending institutions that charge high interest rates. IPC will therefore use the oil revenue to set up soft loan schemes that are affordable to the many struggling mothers all over the country.

The other important aspect about oil is that it is a resource that must be shared by the existing and future generations. IPC believes in sustainable resource management. The oil revenue will be used for extensive research in environmental protection, support of afforestation and protection of affected communities from hazards that come with oil exploration. IPC will also save some of the oil revenue by setting up a national Oil Fund separate from the Consolidated Fund for posterity.

Ms Margaret Wokuri, director for communication and publicity at the IPC campaign bureau wrote this article in consultation with her organisation’s leadership

No comments:

Post a Comment