The Deputy Speaker of Parliament has urged Members of Parliament on the Committee of Economic Affairs Energy and Labour from the National Assembly of Zambia to tread carefully while dealing with the privatization of the energy sector in Zambia.
In the meeting that took place on Wednesday 15th April 2015 at Parliamentary Building, Hon Oulanyah told the Zambian MPs that there are some sectors that the government needs to be in full control over.
“Government was forced to adopt the policy of privatization, it was not an idea that the people of Uganda wanted but that of individual European companies that thrived in their countries. It could not apply to Africa,” he said.
Hon Oulanyah said that the private companies attacked the most strategic sectors of the social services sector in that government could no longer guide and protect the interests of its citizens.
“Government gave away the right of citizens to manage the services on their behalf. The media, the railway and the energy sector are some of the crucial sectors that were privatized,” Rt. Hon Oulanyah said.
He explained that government needed to ring fence some these social services because they were key in the development of a country.
“Before Uganda privatized the electricity sector there was only one board the Uganda Electricity Board managing the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity. After it was privatized it led to creation of three other boards doing the same job one entity was doing,” he said.
Rt. Hon Oulanyah wondered how these boards giving concessions to private companies would reduce the tariffs local consumers paid.
He also said that these private companies’ interests were protected by the agreements signed by government making the local people to suffer heavy tariffs levied by these companies, which was a raw deal.
The Zambian delegation is on a benchmarking visit to Uganda to see how Uganda’s electricity and the social security and pension sectors are operationalized
The Chairperson of the Committee on Economic Affairs of the National Assembly Zambia Hon. Kennedy Hamudulu told the Deputy Speaker that currently Zambia’s electricity distribution is entirely owned by the government of Zambia.
“We are have come to Uganda to see how the privatization of electricity is working and how the law on social securities and pension is being operationalized in Uganda,” he said.
In regard to the social securities and pensions sectors, Rt. Hon. Oulanyah told the Zambian delegation that social security sector being a very critical sector, Zambia needs a strong legal framework that would protect the workers from the time they work until the time they retire from service.
“You must have the right policies that will hold the hand of fresh graduate right from the time he has taken up a job, be able to protect that person even when he gets problems with his employers and also be able to look after him when he retires for that job,” Rt. Hon. Oulanyah explained.
He added that the social securities should be able to prepare a person for retirement.
“The National Social Security Act created the National Social Security Fund to cater for people in the private sector and the Pension Scheme for the persons in Public Service,” he said.
He added that the law that was before Parliament seeking to liberalise the Pension sector in his opinion was not putting the interests of the poor people at heart.
“How can you entrust my retirement in the hands of particular individuals? How can one person gamble away my retirement? And I have no say in what he does with my money,” he mused.
Rt. Hon Oulanyah said people have full rights to know how their pension was being utilized.
He gave example of how the Republic of Tanzania was using pension money to construct useful infrastructure like universities and in return the government would pay back.
The Deputy Speaker advised the visiting delegation that Uganda’s experience in privatization of the electricity sector should be what any other country, should not adopt.
“Learn from the Ugandan experience,” he said.