Stakeholders in the oil sector attending a regional oil and gas management conference in Kampala, Uganda, have emphasized transparency in revenue management from oil and gas resources.

One of the ways that governments can require oil companies to be transparent is for them to list on the stock exchanges. However, even if most of these companies list elsewhere they operate in the developed world, they do not do so in Africa.

“We need to be honest about the accountability of oil and gas resources. If you want oil companies like Tullow to be accountable to the people, why not let the public own shares in Tullow,” asked Dr. Ezra Suruma the former minister of Finance.

Jimmy Mugerwa, the General manager, Tullow Oil Uganda, was hesitant to comment on when they would list on the different regions’s stock exchanges although it has been announced that they will list.

According to Dr. Suruma, while there is talk of demanding for transparency and accountability in the oil and gas sector, by the publics in the East African region, the level of debate and broad participation is low, insincere and dishonest. For instance how would people ascertain and audit oil accounts when that information is not available?

Some delegates also felt that even when there is debate, on oil and gas, the public does not ask the right questions, which should change especially in 2013, which should be a different year, progressive, for the oil sector in the East African region.

In revealing the lack of transparency, Mary Jervase Yak, the deputy minister of Finance, South Sudan said her people felt cheated by the Khartoum government but they had no way to verify the production amounts and revenues accrued.

But, there is also a general challenge in the region as most companies do not have enough capacity like oil companies and although there are different models of managing revenues adopted, countries have adopted the same principles. But some governments are committed to ensuring transparency.

“Our government attaches great importance to the optimal management of oil resources right from exploration, through production and investment of the proceeds, “ said Maria Kiwanuka, the minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development who opened the two-day oil and gas management conference in Kampala.

“Equally Government will insist on transparency and accountability as well as balancing of interests to ensure sustainable and inclusive management of petroleum resources as part of the transformation process of the Ugandan economy,” said Kiwanuka.

According to Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) officials the issues of openness and transparency are critical to the effective management of natural resources. Of particular interest is the way exploration and exploitation contracts are secured.

Often, the public is not allowed to participate, nor are the people consulted or informed of the types of deals that the government is entering into with the foreign-based multinational companies that actually exploit and market the natural resource.

“Emphasize transparency and accountability in management of the petroleum revenues,” said Kiwanuka.

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