South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Friday refuted claims that a bill proposing state intervention in oil and gas drilling operations would scare away foreign investors. The South African parliament's Mineral Resources Portfolio Committee (MRPC) on Thursday passed the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill, which proposes that up to 20 percent interest in any such venture should go to the state. The bill also proposes that a further 30 percent could be bought at a fair market price. The ANC has proposed that the 30- percent ceiling should be lifted. The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) claims that the bill amounts to nationalization of the oil and gas industries as it would allow the government to buy up to 100 percent of any oil and gas operation if it so wishes. The bill, the DA says, will stop mining sector growth and probably lead to closed shafts and workers losing their jobs, and will also mean fewer exports and a worse balance of payments position. "Up until now, the bill has been discussed on the basis that 20 percent of any oil and gas operation can be taken by the state as free carried interest and of top of that there was a stipulation that up to 30 percent more could be bought by the State at a fair market price," said DA's Shadow Minister of Mineral Resources James Lorimer. "What was introduced was that the 30 percent ceiling was lifted, which implies that the state could actually take over the other 80 percent of any oil and gas drilling operation which is effectively nationalization," said Lorimer. In response to the allegation, MRPC Acting Chairperson Faith Bikani said the proposal is fair, if compared with up to 70 percent of interest paid to the state in other countries.