Govt optimistic on power supply bill

Nov 1, 2006
By Angel Navuri

The government is bent on making sure that the proposed Electricity Supply Bill, 2007 is tabled at the next ordinary meeting of the National Assembly slated for Dodoma next month, The Guardian has authoritatively learnt.

That would be despite the near-unanimous rejection of the bill at a seminar in Dar es Salaam last week organised for all Members of Parliament.

Most legislators said it was not realistic and its enactment would mean strangling the state-owned Tanzania Electric Supply Company Ltd (Tanesco).

However, in an exclusive interview with this paper in Dar es Salaam yesterday, Energy and Minerals minister William Ngeleja said reports that MPs had thrown out the bill were blown out of proportion.

``There was no rejection as such. They (MPs) simply aired their views, which we plan to accommodate as much as possible in the new draft to be channelled to the relevant House committee soon,`` said.

He elaborated that the government is now busy working on comments and recommendations from a cross-section of stakeholders, including legislators, with a view to improving the document.

According to the minister, the Parliamentary Committee on Energy and Minerals would decide early next month whether to forward the bill to the full House for discussion at the next meeting.

He said the government still wants to see the bill sailing through the National Assembly and winning presidential assent but he could not say for sure whether it would be tabled in the House next month.

``It will all largely depend on whether the condition given by MPs at the Dar es Salaam seminar that a national power system master plan first be presented to the relevant parliamentary committee for scrutiny,`` Ngeleja pointed out.

The legislators insisted at the seminar that it was necessary for them to have ample time to leaf through the master plan before deciding whether to endorse the proposed bill for further action in the House next month.
Most recommended that the government consider allowing private players into the power generation and supply business only after it had adequately strengthened and empowered Tanesco.

That was the second time the lawmakers were refusing to deliberate on the proposed bill in earnest.
The first time was last month, when they demanded the report of the parliamentary select committee formed to probe the controversial multi-billion-shilling emergency power supply deal involving Richmond Development Company.

The tabling of the report in the House led to the resignation of former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa and two senior ministers, followed by the dissolution and reconstitution of the Cabinet.

SOURCE: Guardian
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