Since it was signed by Experts, I Signed – EX Minister Syda Bbumba on #6bnhandshake
Former Energy minister, Syda Bbumba has feigned ignorance of contents in an oil production sharing agreement that led to a $157 million tax waiver to Tullow Oil Company.
Bbumba is in the eye of the storm after President Yoweri Museveni, while meeting legislators on the Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) recently, accused the Nakaseke North MP of inserting a clause in the production sharing agreement that allowed Tullow to receive the tax waiver for an out of court settlement.
President Museveni told the MPs investigating the Ugx 6 billion handshake payment to 42 government officials that Bbumba, who served as minister between 2006 and 2008, signed the agreement without his knowledge yet she had no powers to give the exemption.
The matter also came to the fore after a consortium of civil society organisations, while appearing before COSASE in February this year, presented evidence, pinning government for illegally giving the tax waiver to Tullow without following due process.
The committee, led by Bugweri County MP, Abdu Katuntu, invited Bbumba to defend herself against the allegations today.
During the interface, Bbumba shocked the legislators when she revealed that she had no expert knowledge of going through the agreement and therefore did not go through the agreement before signing it.
“Since it was negotiated by the experts and brought to me already agreed upon, I signed. It was the first time I came across such a document,” Bbumba told the legislators.
Her response shocked the MPs, including the chairman Katuntu, who wondered how a whole minister failed to sign an important document for the country but did not have responsibility to go through the document.
In response, Bbumba said she signed it basing on Article 119 of the Constitution, which states that the Attorney General is the principle legal adviser of government.
She said her ministry had been advised by the AG’s chamber, identifying Elizabeth Nakkungu among the advisers as well as her technical staff.
The committee members however accused her staff involved in this process of incompetence, which led to government losing the money through the waiver.
Katuntu said the committee report to the House will reflect these revelations and make recommendations.