Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Energy Ministry presents a draft on Natural gas policy
THE Minister for Energy and Minerals Professor Sospeter Muhongo yesterday presented a draft of Natural gas policy of Tanzania to Members of Parliament at a seminar whereby legislators took time to discuss it with a call from the majority of them who have advised the government not to rush with the exploration of the southern rich gas and oil deposits in Mtwara region. A 45 paged booklet outlines together with other things what the government is intending to do with the exploration of gas for the benefits of the nation in future and has also outlined strategic plans by the government which would ensure efficiency out of the contracts to be entered in future. Among the issues noted in the draft describes how the government shall ensure growth of the natural gas industry in order to support strategic investments in other sectors of economy as well as support private sec tor participation for rapid development of strategic industries such as petrochemicals, steel and other energy intensive industries. The draft also has outlined what the government will do to substantially improve Corporate Social Responsibility (CRS) in communities neighboring natural gas facilities and operations, and these would ensure a contractual obligation to all investors and contractors in the natural gas activities to undertake community development programs. Contributing to their views over the draft, some legislators wanted to know the position of government in safe guarding the welfare of Tanzanians and the contracts to be entered once the exploration activities are over. Ibrahim Sanya (CUF) wanted to know what procedures has the government put in order to let Tanzanians acquire individuals’ shares. He also warned the government not to mess up just like what happened in mining contracts which he said none of ordinary Tanzanian is benefiting in these projects in the country. However, he has advised the government that if it is not ready in its strategic plans which are to benefit its citizens and the government itself, then it shouldn’t rush unless it has trained its own people who in future would be in a position to save the future generation. Mussa Haji Kombo (CUF) asked the Minister to explain why his draft had no element which he mentioned about Zanzibar and that the draft has only centered mainland Tanzania. The legislator is on the view of the fact that, those who prepared the draft might have forgotten that Zanzibar is within the union government. Halima Mdee (Chadema) wanted to know the government’s decision why it has decided in its strategic plans to construct a gas pipeline from Mtwara to Dar es Salaam an aspect that has caused chaos among the southerners who feels to have been abandoned by the government with thinking that they won’t benefit from the gas. She has however asked the government to verify ways to see how the people of Mtwara and other southerners so that they clear out their worries over the matter instead of are going to benefit with this project. According to her, she has suggested one keeping quite and if possible make open the already contracts that the government has so far entered. However she has also called on the stakeholders in the energy sector to pass education to the people in order to enlighten them as it would not be fair for them to be abandoned when the gas deposits are from within their region. She also asked to know the already 40 trillion cubic meters already in place if the government has entered a contract with, and if so, how many contracts have been entered so far. Suleiman Jafu (CCM) advised the government to include in a draft every contracts it shall have entered , it must ensure that, all Tanzania small entrepreneurs to engage in small activities and not foreigners as the case is seen at Kariakoo market in Dar es Salaam whereby Chinese foreigners are engaged in petty business which could be done by local people. Moses Machari (NCCR-Mageuzi) noted that the government should understand what people need to know in this gas sector. He said that, wider education is still needed to be given by the government and proper implementation of the policy should be prepared. Winding up the legislators views’, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Energy and Minerals, Eliachim Maswi assured them what the government has put in place its strategies and that would not mess up as it has realized the mistakes done in the past. On education he said that, the government has started since last year to sponsor 30 students for Masters program studies every year in Portugal and China to acquire knowledge on gas exploration and has also assured the Parliamentarians that all contracts which shall be entered by the government through his ministry will be correct and that should you clear any doubt. Winding up legislators’’ views also was the Minister for Energy and Minerals, Professor Sospeter Muhongo who asked legislators who attended the seminar to accept the draft which he said would be brought back in Parliament for their approval later. He however cleared doubts by some who noted that, it was too earlier for government to start gas business at this time when the nation does not have enough experts in the field.