Civil Society in Mozambique Demands Slice of Gas Revenues

  • Mozambican civil society organisations on Wednesday, June 22, demanded the creation of a sovereign wealth fund before the start of production of liquefied natural gas from Rovuma, to allow the revenues to be used for the social and economic development of the country.

“We are of the opinion that Mozambique cannot start exploring [natural gas from the Rovuma basin]without having a sovereign wealth fund,” said Fátima Mimbire, coordinator of the Civic Movement for the Sovereign Fund, a coalition of Mozambican civil society organisations.

Mimbire was speaking on the sidelines of a debate in Maputo four days after the first offshore exploitation platform began extracting gas from the Rovuma reserves. Mozambique “must hurry up” and open an account for gas proceeds to be deposited in, Mimbire said.

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Without a special savings mechanism, the income from the production and export of LNG would be allocated directly to the State Budget, tempting the government to increase expenditure in areas with little or no impact on social and economic development or poverty reduction, Mimbire warned.

Related news: Mozambique floating gas platform draws first hydrocarbons – full production on track for second half of year

“We have to ensure that we have a sovereign fund for the first revenues, even if they are tiny. It is possible for Mozambique to start small and build savings,” she said.

Mimbire urges that gas revenues be channelled to social sectors such as education and health, as well as to the construction of infrastructure like roads and bridges which would stimulate the transformation and diversification of the economy.

Speaking on the same occasion on behalf of the Assembly of the Republic, the chairman of the Planning and Budget Commission (CPO), António Niquice, gave assurances that parliament would approve legislation on a possible sovereign wealth fund so that energy would be a “blessing” for Mozambique, not a “nightmare”.

“We do not want to repeat the mistakes of other countries, because we already have these examples of how things go wrong,” said António Niquice, deputy for the ruling Frelimo party, observing that the Assembly of the Republic would adopt legislation guaranteeing transparent management in the use of the proceeds for the social and economic development of the country.

The central bank expects the country to receive US$96 billion over the presumed 25 years of Rovuma gas extraction – almost seven times Mozambique’s annual gross domestic product.

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

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