Controversial Mining Bill Ratified By the National Assembly

After debating for nearly a year, the South Sudan National Assembly (SSNA) has finally passed the South Sudan Mining Bill 2012 after the fourth and final reading.

Controversial Mining Bill Ratified By Parliament
The South Sudan National Assembly hall during in session [Gurtong | File]

By Waakhe Simon Wudu

JUBA, 20 November 2012 [Gurtong] – There had been a tense debate amid the fourth reading of the bill, some thing which is in violation of the business code of conduct which does not allow any debate at the fourth.
 
“With all the observations I think we come to reading the title of the bill so that it is passed at its entirety. This bill is known as ‘The Laws of South Sudan Mining Bill 2012,’ and by this we have passed this bill,” ruled the speaker James Igga.
 
“Congratulations Hon. Members and especially the committee concerned with this tedious bill. It is being an upheaval task although also it took a long time it did not deserve that time,” added Igga.

The parliament is supposed to spend at least three months in passing a bill. But the Mining Bill has almost taken a year since it was first presented to the house.

After two hours of presentation of the bill in its third reading by the Energy and Mining Committee Chairperson Henry Dilar Odwar, members passed the bill into its forth reading.

There was a big debate on several issues in the bill midst the forth reading. However, because it was already in violation of the SSNA business code of conduct, Speaker Igga had to down play the important concerns. 

The bill talks of allocation of 2 per cent and 3 per cent resource benefit to State and community respectively from mining of any minerals in a particular location in the country.

The bill has given the states legality to administer the exploitation of the minerals in their territories; it can give licenses to mining companies. In other wards it can mine the minerals in its territory.

However, this provision is contradicting the provision of the Transitional Constitution which states that all mineral resources are the provision of the national government.

The clause is silent as to whether the revenues accrued from the mining or operating companies should solely belong to the State or the State exploits them on behalf of the central government. 

MPs could not fix the issue, prompting the Speaker to maneuver into the SSNA code of conduct regulation 108 (2) which compromise some of the provisions of the code by giving the SSNA powers to suspend a motion in its forth reading.

Hon. Kom Kom Geng from Northern Bahr el Ghazal State proposed suspension of the SSNA decision to pass the bill in its forth reading so as it is subjected to another thorough debate.

Meanwhile Hon. David Alemi from Morobo, from Central Equatoria State raised a counter motion which opposed the suspension of the parliament’s decision from continuing with ratifying the bill in its forth reading.

Alemi challenged a section of parliamentarians of not concentrating during secessions and want to take the house back.
 
Ninety eight MPs against voted for ratification of the bill in its forth reading against 74 with 11 including ministers abstaining from the voting.

In an exclusive interview, Hon. Henry Odwar pointed out that the Mining Bill is different from the Petroleum Law that was passed and the Petroleum Revenue Management Bill which is yet to come to the SSNA.

 “Basically this bill regulates how we get minerals out of the ground, how we relate the people who get the minerals out of the ground,” Odwar said.   
 
“The difference between the mining and petroleum bill is that, the petroleum act now deals with petroleum but the mining bill deals with all different types of minerals that give rise to various types of metals or the different types of alloys that are used in the industry,” he added.

He further explained that the Petroleum Revenue Management bill which is yet to be ratified as part of laws also aimed at managing the country’s resources particularly oil deals with how well the oil money will be spent once oil flow starts.

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