Posted: Monday 2nd June 2014 at 16:06 pm

Finance Ministry advises ACEP to stop peddling falsehood


The Ministry of Finance has rejected claims by Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) that government is flouting the laws provided in the Petroleum Revenue Management Act 815 of 2011.

The energy think-tank claimed government in May 2014, spent a dollar equivalent of GH¢494.6 million, being excess revenues accruing over the maximum cap on the Ghana Stabilization Fund, to finance expenditure.

That expenditure, ACEP believes is contrary to the provisions of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act.

But a statement issued by the Public Relations Unit, Ministry of Finance, on Monday advised ACEP to verify its information before going ahead to misinform the public.

‘We would plead with ACEP and other stakeholders to research well and verify matters of public interest and help educate the public rather than peddling untruths which require public officials to spend precious time to rebut. We believe that ACEP should have consulted the Ministry on the matter before rushing to the press.’

The ministry has also welcomed calls by ACEP for Parliament to investigate the utilisation of the excess revenues accruing to the Ghana Stabilization Fund.

‘We would like to place on record that our management of petroleum revenue has been in line with the PRMA. We, therefore, accept the challenge by ACEP for an investigation to be carried out on the use of the excess funds over the GSF cap in order to put this matter to rest,’ the statement stressed.

 
BELOW IS THE FULL STATEMENT BY THE FINANCE MINISTRY

 
RE: PARLIAMENT MUST INVESTIGATE SPENDING
FROM THE GHANA STABILISATION FUND
 
Background
The Ministry of Finance has sighted a release by the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), accusing Government of ‘abuse of the fiscal discipline provided in the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, 2011 (Act 815)’. In the release, ACEP accuses Government of using moneys from the excess over the cap on the Ghana Stabilisation Fund (GSF) to ‘finance expenditure contrary to the provisions of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act’, circumventing the powers of Parliament and violating the Constitution in the process. This press release seeks to provide some background information on the basis for the cap on the GSF, while clarifying the misconception published by ACEP to undermine the very successful implementation of the PRMA, which they seek to ensure.

 
The Cap on the GSF and Subsequent Transfer
 
Section 23(3) of the PRMA states that ‘The accumulated resources of the Ghana Stabilisation Fund shall not exceed an amount recommended by the Minister and approved by Parliament and the amount shall be reviewed from time to time as necessitated by macroeconomic conditions’. Section 23(4) of the PRMA also states that once the cap is attained ‘ subsequent transfers into the Ghana Stabilisation Fund shall be allocated as transfers into the Contingency Fund or for debt repayment approved by Parliament’.

 
The 2014 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government of Ghana proposed to cap the GSF at US$250 million in line with Section 23(3) of the PRMA; and to use the excess over the cap for debt repayment and to establish the Contingency Fund, as proposed in the Constitution of Ghana. This is captured under paragraph 972 of the 2014 Budget, which reads as follows:

‘In line with Section 23(3) and (4) of the PRMA, it is proposed that the GSF be capped at US$250 million and the excess amount utilized for debt repayment and setting up the Contingency Fund (envisaged under the Constitution) An amount of GHÈ»50 million from the excess of the cap on the GSF is proposed to initiate the setting up of the Contingency Fund to meet urgent or unforeseen need for expenditure for which no other provision has been made’.

 
The proposals to cap the GSF and to use the excess funds over the cap to establish the Contingency Fund and for debt repayment were approved by Parliament, as captured in column 3647 of the Official Report of Parliament (The Hansard, Fourth Series, Vol.84, No.31) on Tuesday, 17th December, 2013.

Balance Standing in the GSF Account by End-March 2014

 
The GSF balance as at end-December 2013 stood at US$319,034,153.16, as indicated in the 2013 Reconciliation Report on the Petroleum Holding Fund, which is available on the Ministry’s website ( www.mofep.gov.gh ). In the first quarter of 2014, a total of US$107,457,183.71 accrued to the GSF. This brought the total GSF balance as at March 31, 2014 to US$426,491,336.87.

 
Given the GSF cap of US$250 million, the excess over the cap at end-March 2014 was One Hundred and Seventy-Six Million, Four Hundred and Ninety-One Thousand, Three Hundred and Thirty-Six United States Dollars, Eighty-Seven Cents (US$176,491,336.87).

 
The Ministry of Finance wrote to the Controller and Accountant-General to instruct Bank of Ghana to use the equivalence of GHȻ50 million of the US$176.49 million to set up the Contingency Fund, as proposed in the 2014 Budget, and transfer the rest into the Debt Service Account for debt repayment.

Response to ACEP’s Claims
The Bank of Ghana has established the Contingency Fund with an amount of GHÈ»50 million. This amount was drawn from the excess over the cap on the GSF. The fact that the Contingency Fund exists today with a balance of GHÈ»50 million testifies to the fact that no moneys have been spent from it. This defeats ACEP’s claim that the excess amount over the GSF cap never reached the Contingency Fund since the Contingency Fund was first established in May 14, 2014 with the GHÈ»50 million.

The remaining amount has been deposited into the Debt Service Account for debt repayment and due process will be followed before the use of the money.

 
It is very inaccurate for ACEP to suggest that the US$176.49 million, which represents the excess over the cap on the GSF as at end-March 2014, has been used by Government to close its financing gap. It is also untrue that Parliament’s powers have been usurped and the Constitution violated.

 
We would like to place on record that our management of petroleum revenue has been in line with the PRMA. We, therefore, accept the challenge by ACEP for an investigation to be carried out on the use of the excess funds over the GSF cap in order to put this matter to rest.

 
We would plead with ACEP and other stakeholders to research well and verify matters of public interest and help educate the public rather than peddling untruths which require public officials to spend precious time to rebut. We believe that ACEP should have consulted the Ministry on the matter before rushing to the press. END

 
ISSUED BY THE PUBLIC RELATIONS UNIT
                        MINISTRY OF FINANCE Story by Ghana | Myjoyonline.com | Isaac Essel | [email protected]

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