Mohammed Amin Adam
The chiefs and people of the Western region have been called upon to stand up and put pressure on the government to fulfil its promise of using money accrued from the Western corridor development Authority (WCDA) for the development of the region.
The growing sentiment of alienation and marginalisation among people in the Western region led to the setting up of the WCDA, similar to that of the Southern Development Authority (SADA) set by the NDC government to facilitate accelerated development of the Western region, after oil was discovered in commercial quantities off West Cape Three Points.
The creation of the WCDA was also to serve as a special development vehicle for addressing development challenges associated with petroleum exploration in the western region.
Dr Mohammed Amin Adam, Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), made the call at a national stakeholders’ forum on the Petroleum revenue Management in Takoradi.
This was after most of the participants of the forum, mostly fishermen, had called for the development of regulations for adequate compensation for petroleum-related marine accidents such as destruction of fishing gears and vessels, farmlands and properties in the host communities.
‘I am surprised people of the Western region are not calling on the government to fulfil its promise of setting up the WCDA to compensate the people for the development challenges the area will encounter as a result of the oil exploration,’ he stressed.
The forum was aimed, among other things, to enlighten the participants on the proposals on the review of the Petroleum revenue Management Act 2011 (Act 815) to the Ministry of Finance by ACEP, the Centre for Public Interest Law (CEPIL) and Friends of the Nation (FoN)
He emphasized that the method for transferring revenues to the Ghana Petroleum Funds should be revised to ensure that the Stabilisation Fund has sufficient balance to cushion the effects of revenue shortfalls.
Dr Adam could not fathom why the law provided the Minister of Finance the power to determine ceiling on the Ghana Stabilisation Fund but did not provide guidelines for determining the ceiling.
‘This is too discretionary as Parliament is unlikely to disapprove the ceiling determined by the Minister,’ he pointed out.
He, therefore, called for independent projections to help address the fear of over- estimation of petroleum receipts allegedly by government.
‘The suspicion that government could deliberately over-estimate crude oil prices and the Benchmark revenue and fall on the Stabilisation Fund when revenue targets are not met, could be resolved if the projections are made by an independent committee,’ he added.
He also stressed on the need for the law to provide one mechanism for financing the Ghana National
Petroleum Company’s (GNPC) equity cost and investment obligations.
At the end of the forum, the participants vresolved that as a matter of urgency, the government should publish the drafted regulations on the Petroleum revenue Management Act for public discussions and onward submission to Parliament.
From Emmanuel Opoku, Takoradi
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