Algeria, November 7, 2019

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APN: MPs deliver mixed opinions on draft law on hydrocarbons

ALGIERS- MPs expressed, Tuesday, mixed opinions about the draft law on hydrocarbons, proposed to the debate between partisans deeming imperative the revival of exploration activities to avoid the country an acute energy crisis, and opponents judging the economic situation inappropriate by proposing its postponement after the presidential election holding.


In a plenary session chaired by Slimane Chenine, Speaker of the People’s National Assembly, in the presence of the Ministers of Energy, Mohamed Arkab, and the Minister of Relations with Parliament, Fathi Khouil, parties belonging to the parliamentary majority welcomed the reforms contained in the draft law.Hicham Rahim of the National Liberation Front (FLN) party highlighted the measures introduced by the draft law to be debated with “a certain patriotic spirit and a prospective vision”, considering that the 49-51% rule preserves Algeria its riches.

Lahbib Senoussi of the same political group considered “convincing” the explanatory memorandum of the draft law presented by the Government which “works to achieve objectives in favor of the economy and national sovereignty”, considering that the new law would be “an imperative and not a choice”.

For her part, MP Karima Khaoula Houifi (from the same party) deplored the fact of not associating MEPs with the drafting workshops, questioning the interest of the text to attract foreign partners to the project instead of looking at the motivation to establish partnerships between Algerian companies, and regretting some tax exemptions proposed for foreign partners.

For Salah Eddine Dekhili of the National Democratic Rally (RND) party, maintained that the 49-51% rule and the right of pre-emption are “pledges for national sovereignty”, while Houria MP Oulebsir (of the same political party) welcomed the amendment of the regulatory framework for hydrocarbons, in particular through the integration of an incentive and simplified tax system, which will promote the investment climate and work to revive exploration activities.

Omar Boulifan of the same party felt that the diversification of the types of partnership contracts under the bill will give Sonatrach a large margin for the conclusion of contracts in line with what is in force in the world, wondering about the absence of details in the text on the exploitation of renewable energies.

As for Hakim Beri of the same party, he called for the postponement of the examination of this text after the presidential election scheduled for December 12. Ouafia Boureghda deputy of the Tajamou party Amal El Jazair (TAJ) supported the measures contained in the text which “allow Sonatrach to conclude partnership contracts and reduce its exploration risks”, proposing the revitalization of the National Energy Council (CNE) and the rigorous definition of energy prices for the internal consumer.

Opposition for a postponement of the bill

For their part, members of the opposition agreed on the need to postpone consideration of the bill after the Presidential election.

MP Lakhdar Benkhellaf of the Nahda-Adala-Bina Union said the bill comes in special circumstances requiring seriousness and not rush.

Abundant in the same direction, Abdelmadjid Touakine of the same party proposed the development of the law on energy that is not limited to hydrocarbons but including renewable energy.

In this regard, the youth party MP Taleb Abdellah stressed that the presentation and review of the bill in a hurry “raises uncertainty” in the light of the circumstances that the country faces while the deadline for production energy from new explorations requires no less than 10 years.

MP Rabah Djedou of the National Front for Activism (FNM) said that Algeria is going through an economic crisis involving a careful examination of this law and not the haste.

As for Khadidja Boudine of the Workers Party (PT), she wondered about “the reason for the haste in the presentation and the examination of this text before one month of the presidential election”.

The same MP regretted that there are “12 articles in the bill that undermine national sovereignty and make the interests of foreign companies prevail over the national interest especially as they pave the way for the withdrawal of State of ownership of underground wealth.

In its preliminary report on the draft law, the Committee on Economic Affairs, Development, Industry, Trade and Planning has proposed 16 amendments, most of which do not undermine the text but reformulate only certain items to make them clear and precise.

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