Fafa Sanyang, the Energy and Petroleum Minister, said the establishment of an Independent Petroleum Commission, is central in the reform agenda of the sector.
He said this will ensure effective, transparent and good governance upstream and midstream petroleum sector.
Sanyang said this while moving a motion for the second reading of the bill entitled Petroleum Commission Bill 2020, for legislative consideration and enactment.
He explained, “In 2019, Cabinet gave approval for my Ministry to undertake reforms that are needed for the development of the petroleum sector, including an autonomous petroleum commission. My Ministry initiated this process, by embarking on a stakeholder consultation that culminated into the drafting of the Petroleum Commission Bill 2020.”
He said the key mandate of the commission, is to regulate upstream and midstream petroleum activities in the Gambia and that such autonomous Commission, will ensure good governance, transparency and efficiency.
He added currently: “The Petroleum Ministry provides policy direction as its core mandate and facilitate licenses as well as the regulation of the upstream activities, through the commission as a unit within the Ministry.”
He said this is not in line with best practices and as such makes it prudent to separate policy regulation and operation, which is good resource governance practices and in line with ECOWAS Hydro-Carbon development policy.
He said: “Since the establishment of a dedicated policy making body and the Gambia National Petroleum Corporation, there is need to establish an autonomous body to regulate upstream and midstream activities. An independent commission will also manage the social and environmental practices related to oil and gas development.”
He said the commission’s primary function would be law enforcement, regulation and overseeing contract terms, advising the Ministry on effectiveness of policies, as well as on laws and regulations in the upstream and midstream petroleum sector.
He further said the commission will be responsible for licensing processes and facilitate acquisition of data and sales.
He highlighted: “The potential benefits of a well- managed and administered petroleum sector, include immediate direct payments to government in the form of bonuses, medium term tax revenue to longer term potential revenue potentials (royalties and taxes relating to the petroleum operations).
Lawmakers gave their support to the move as it will ensure effective and judicious management of the country’s natural resources in the best interest of the country.
The bill was after the debate referred to the Assembly Business Committee for Committal to either a committee or the committee of the whole house of the legislature for consideration and approval.