Monday, July 3, 2017

Bills for natural resources to be tabled in Dodoma this week

Collection of public opinions on the three natural resource bills was closed in Parliament last week paving way for the committees to work on the documents before legislators start debating them in the House. Members of Parliament are scheduled to debate and hopefully endorse the three bills between today and Wednesday. The bills are Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act, 2017, the Natural Wealth and Contracts (Review and Renegotiation of Unconscionable terms) Act, 2017 and the Natural Wealth and Resources (Permanent Sovereignty) Act 2017. Last Thursday, Speaker Job Ndugai announced the extension of the parliamentary sessions to Wednesday this week to enable MPs to work on the three bills as requested by President John Magufuli. Shortly after the Speaker’s announcement, three Parliamentary committees, including the Parliamentary Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee started working on the bills. The committees invited MPs and members of the public to give their opinions to enable the committees to safely harbour the three bills ready for debate in the House today. The committees invited various legal experts and mining industry stakeholders from various parts of the country to analyse the bills. Generally, experts and industry stakeholders who shared their views wanted MPs to endorse the bills only if they stand to protect the country’s natural resources and Tanzanians’ welfare. Some of experts who aired their opinions include Dr Rugemeleza Nshala from the Lawyers’ Environmental Action Team (LEAT). 

The Speaker of Tanzania's National Assembly Mr. Job Ndugai

He told the committees that his organization was pleased with the way the bills were prepared and that he wished to add some inputs in various areas. On the Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill, 2017, Dr Nshala who is also a prominent advocate in the country said the bill must state categorically that there should be no need to file cases to the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). He said it might take not less than five years to withdraw from MIGA and ICSID and that there are legal experts in the country who can assist to draft proposals and stand firmly behind the government on the matter. On the Natural Wealth and Resources (Permanent Sovereignty) Act, 2017, Dr Nshala said all investors in the mining sector must seek for a mining license instead of signing contracts with the government. According to Dr Nshala, allowing contracts between the government and the company or certain individual does not reflect the real meaning of ‘sovereignty’. Bariadi MP (CCM), Mr Andrew Chenge said the new government approach on the utilization of natural resource was promising. He said there is need for the reorganisation of the country’s sovereignty in the resource utilisation. State Mining Corporation (STAMICO) legal expert Mudrikat Kiobya said the new law should categorically provide for the government shares in the mining sector, under Stamico

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