Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Mnyika hails a consensus reached between government and TPSF

Shadow Minister for Energy and Minerals John Mnyika has hailed the decision reached on Thursday between Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) and the government on how indigenous Tanzanians would participate in the oil and gas business but with reservations. According to the Press Release he issued to the media yesterday in Dar es Salaam, the opposition law maker said that, the agreement between the government and TPSF’s leaders is a one step forward. However, he noted that, this should not end up as such for there is a need for the government to continue making talks with other stakeholders such as the individuals. Mnyika is on the view of the fact that, direct participation of the people in oil and gas deal would make them benefit a lot from the natural reserve which should not only be given to foreign investors alone.  In view of this, however he said there is a need for President Jakaya Kikwete to suspend the forth round of issuing the exploration licenses on natural gas and oil unless their policy document is completed and the amendments on energy and oil Act is made. Mnyika who is a legislator for Ubungo constituency noted that, the President should refer to other stakeholder’s view notably people whose proposals he submitted to the Parliament during the budget session on behalf of the opposition camp in May this year. In his statement which he read in Parliament, Mnyika referred the implementation by the Ministry of Energy and Minerals for the previous financial year 2012/13 after having received comments raised by the Energy Committee members which was associated with the suspension of the distribution of natural gas blocks. The government however had promised not to continue the exercise of distributing new natural gas blocks for oil exploration which it had indefinitely suspended awaiting for the completion of the new natural gas policy and natural gas Act. He further noted that, if the President would refuse to suspend the distribution before 25th October next month, then the Speaker of National Assembly Anne Makinda should convene a special session for the Parliamentary Committee on Energy and Minerals. The purpose of this, the legislator has noted is to let the government explain reasons for its failure of delay for implementing the deliberations reached in Parliament over natural gas and blatantly violated the agreement between the government and the Parliamentary committee over the announcement for the tender of auctioning natural gas blocks and the development of the natural gas in the country. On Thursday last week, the government and the TPSF finally resolved their differences over the auction of eight natural gas blocks giving leeway for indigenous Tanzanians to own shares when the policy becomes ready in September next year. 

A member of Parliament for Ubungo Constituency, Mr. John Mnyika

A consultative meeting between the two sides was held in Dar es Salaam and agreed that the auction which was slated for October this year should go ahead as planned and as per the Petroleum and Exploration Act of 1980. Briefing journalists after the meeting, TPSF’s executive director, Godfrey Simbeye, said the two sides also agreed that the lobby should work in cooperation with the government in the course of exploitation of minerals and other sources of energy so as to ensure that more benefits accrue to the local people. In so doing, he said, the government would ensure that indigenous Tanzanians are given the opportunity to fully take part in the exploitation of the country’s resources. The agreement ends a ‘tug-of-war’ between the TPSF and the Ministry of Energy and Minerals on how indigenous Tanzanians can benefit from the eight offshore natural gas blocks that the government has earmarked for sale. The differences between the two were fizzled out after the government clarified that the October 25 auction was only an official launch of the deep offshore and northern Lake Tanganyika licensing, this being the fourth round. Underlining the differences was that TPSF had protested the government’s decision to auction the eight natural gas blocks (seven in the offshore Indian Ocean and one in north of Lake Tanganyika) on grounds that there was no policy document to regulate the business. The foundation was of the belief that such a decision would limit indigenous Tanzanian participation in the exploitation of the important natural resource. Simbeye said the foundation was also happy with the fact that “any firm investing in these blocks must clearly state in its application that it will be listed in the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange.” “This would enable indigenous Tanzanians to purchase shares and take part in the oil and gas business,” he noted. TPSF Board of Directors Chairman Dr Reginald Mengi, was pleased that the government had listened to its people’s concerns. “Their involvement will ensure this crucial natural resource becomes a blessing and not a curse,” he said, adding that several countries have been involved in endless conflicts over natural resource discoveries. Meanwhile, recent reports issued by Tanzania Coalition on Debt and Development (TCDD) on the gas exploration in Mtwara region says that, there is still an inward conflict between the government and the people in the region which is associated with the transfer of the natural gas to Dar es Salaam

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