Oil and public works require change to Sao Tome’s legislation

28 February 2006

Lisbon, Portugal, 28 Feb – The beginning of oil exploration and large-scale public construction work in Sao Tome and Principe will require changes to the country’s legislation, in order to make the business environment more favorable, Portuguese specialists have said.

Legal expert Rute Martins Santos, co-author of the book “Investimentos em São Tomé e Príncipe – Legislação básica” , told Macauhub that specific regulation of the tax system for the oil sector would have to be introduced in the country.

“The country is at a turning point in its economy, driven by the prospect of oil exploration and the carrying out of large-scale public works, such as the new deepwater port. And the system is, in many respects, out of date, because of how old it is,” Santos said in an interview in Lisbon.

Santos is co-author of the book about investment in Sao Tome launched in Lisbon last week and which also includes contributions from Sao tome legal expert N´Gunu Tiny and from Kiluange Tiny, who is a consultant for the Sao Tome government on oil issues.

The updates needed, according to Santos, would “eliminate bureaucracy and make an efficient investment process possible (…) and be a strong incentive on the scale of investment decisions.”

“A year after the law on oil revenues was passed and set in place, it is clear that in the future some changes will be needed in order to adapt some mechanisms to the current and real needs of the country,” Santos said.

Despite this, Santos is positive about the legislative modernization carried out by the government, and said that the law for the oil sector is appropriate, although so far incomplete.

As well as completing legislation for the oil sectors the legal experts believe competition laws should be introduced in the country, along with consumer rights and voluntary arbitration, and laws for general administrative contracts, amongst others.

“It is necessary and urgent to move ahead with revising several central legislative papers for business and introduce new regulations to coordinate the markets,” Santos told Macauhub. (macauhub)