By: Kebba AF Touray
The Ministries of Fisheries, Environment and NGO Affairs have provided their respective recommendations on the Bill entitled Petroleum Commission Bill 2020. They made their submissions yesterday, during an engagement with the Assembly joint committee on PEC (Public Enterprise Committee) and Environment.
Omar SM Gibba, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Fisheries, said after their last interface with the joint committee, they met as a Ministry and critically review the bill, to be able to do justice to the document.
On page 5 of the bill, he questioned the sentence ‘export pipeline and cable’ and the term subcontractor being well defined, but they went through the document, and there is nowhere in the document, that defines the contractor, indicating before having a subcontractor there should be a contractor.
He thus proffered the need for the inclusion of the sentence ‘supply and support vessel’, adding that the vessel can transport petroleum in bulk.
He expressed: “When we met as a Ministry, questions were raised as to why the exclusion of supply and support vessel’, emphasizing that they can transport petroleum in bulk. We also felt that the contractor should be well defined in the document”.
He said there is a gap in the composition of the commission board and they have recommended the need to have a marine biology that would take care of the fisheries and water aspects of the commission, as well as the spooning areas of the ecosystem, which environmentalist cannot properly defend, as it is crucial for fisheries because it is where fishes rejuvenate.
DPS Sarr recommended for a conflict resolution mechanism to be put in place to take care of all conflicts in the commission. He called for the inclusion of the exploration sites in the document.
He lamented: “We also observed that the document only mentions petroleum as crude oil and natural gas. We are of the opinion that this definition, should consider the hydro-carbons in liquids, gas and solid states”.
Musukebba Sonko, Executive Director of NGO Affairs, called for specificity in the position of the Permanent Secretary as indicated in the document, stating that the petroleum commission either falls under the Ministry of Petroleum or under a particular Ministry, which also has its Permanent Secretary, but pin pointed that this has not been specified in clearer terms in the document.
She suggested the need to make a provision for the Secretary of the Commission’s Board, adding this should be indicated in the provision. He called for the appointment of an officer by the board from amongst the staff of the commission to serve as the board’s Secretary, who shall keep and record the minutes of the commission’s meetings.
Momodou Mbaye Jabang, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Environment, reiterated that administratively, they do not have many questions on the document, but emphasized the need to have an environmentalist which narrowed down to an environmental and social safeguard specialist.
He said: “the person might be an environmentalist but might not be social safeguard specialist. The implication is that petroleum productions have major social repercussions and to put in place adequate social safeguard, beside an environmental safeguard is quite important, especially during environmental upheaval, which can have some very direct effect on the country”.
Kissima Bittaye, State Counsel at the Ministry of Justice, clarified the definition of the board means the petroleum commission board which is established under section 6, which actually establishes a board under the petroleum Act, which will be responsible for different operational matters with regards the petroleum sector”.
He added: “the commission is defined as the Petroleum Commission established under section 3, which also gave the commission what is called in legal field as ‘separate legal entity ‘ and gave commission a status wherein it can sue and be sued and can enter contract on its name separately”.