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25 Mar 2009 13:53
Angola is set to exempt companies exploring for natural gas from paying taxes and will increase pressure on oil companies to hire more local workers, Jornal de Angola reported on Wednesday.
The nation’s Parliament on Tuesday voted to allow the government to implement a law that exempts gas firms in Angola from any tax burdens. The move is meant to stimulate investment in a country without a domestic market for gas.
As part of these measures, Sonangas, a subsidiary of state-owned oil firm Sonangol, will grant 10-year gas-exploration rights to Eni Angola Exploration BV, Gas Natural West Africa SL, Galp Exploration Petrolifera SA and Exem Energy BV, it said.
Parliament also approved new measures aimed at increasing the number of Angolan workers in the oil sector—an extension of the government’s Angolanisation policy.
After almost three decades of civil war that ended in 2002, Angola’s local labour force has limited education or technical skills.
The new law forces oil companies to contribute to a special fund that will be used for training and developing local talent.
The state-owned Jornal de Angola did not say how much the amount oil firms would have to contribute to the fund.
Angola rivals Nigeria as Africa’s biggest oil producer.
Angola’s opposition Unita party has accused oil companies in Angola of discriminating against local workers by saying that the higher paid jobs are normally given to expatriates.
But oil companies such as Chevron and Total—two of Angola’s biggest oil producers—say that over 70 percent of their workforce is already Angolan.
The country’s oil minister has also repeatedly denied these accusations.
“There is no discrimination,” Oil Minister Jose Botelho de Vasconcelos, who is also the rotating President of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec), said during a parliamentary session on Tuesday.
“We continue to work to achieve higher levels of Angolan workers [in the oil sector].”
The government conducts annual surveys of the oil industry to check whether companies are hiring Angolans.
Outside the oil sector, the government has tried to discourage companies from bringing in expatriate workers although no Angolanisation policy has been openly enforced in this area.—Reuters
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