By Ronald Musoke
Although Uganda is yet to pump her first oil, the Uganda Revenue Authority, just like other government agencies with a role to play in the country’s fledgling oil and gas sector has created a unit to handle oil revenues.
While speaking at the hastily organized national dialogue on Oil and Gas, Dec. 3 in Kampala, Martin Muhangi, the Oil and Gas Unit Manager at URA said the unit is fully operational and deals with the registration, return filing and payments and is also responsible for providing input on matters of policy since the tax body is a member of the National Petroleum Technical Committee.
However, Muhangi noted that URA was also in the final stages of working on an e-tax model to support the processing of oil and gas returns in future.
He said URA has registered all the five oil companies and 12 sub-contractors which are currently involved in Uganda’s fledgling oil and gas sector.
Muhangi told participants of the dialogue which included MPs, district chairpersons, businessmen, members of the religious community and the media that URA has so far collected revenues from the oil gas sector amounting to Ushs 1.68 trillion and Ushs 149.7 billion (from oil company transactions and sub-contractors) respectively.
He said URA is waiting for the Public Finance Bill to be passed by Parliament so that their role which is clearly stipulated in Uganda’s Oil and Gas Policy can be improved.
Muhangi said the oil and gas sector is a specialized sector and requires skilled man-power and in an effort to respond to that particular challenge, the tax body is taking training and skilling of its staff as a priority.
According to a statement released by the convener of the dialogue, Patrick Nakabale, the youth MP for Central Uganda, the major objective of the dialogue was to seek consensus and adopt a binding resolution that will guide the government and policy makers in the development process of the oil and gas sector.
It should be recalled that Parliament recently hit a blind alley when the passing of the 2012 petroleum exploration, development and production bill was halted after they failed to agree on the contentious clause nine which apparently seeks to grant much power to the line minister. Just like in Parliament, the dialogue failed to come up with any concrete resolution.