Civil society group African Center for Energy Policy is raising red flags over a new petroleum exploration draft bill which is currently before Parliament for consideration.
The Executive Director of the center Dr. Mohammed Amin Adam told Joy News’ parliamentary correspondent, Elton John Brobbey, the bill in its current form would breed corruption.
He is therefore calling for an immediate amendment to the bill.
Quoting Section 10 (1) of the draft bill, Dr Amin Adam said there is a proposal for an open and competitive bidding process for giving out oil concessions.
However, Section 10 (2) gives the minister the power to ignore the outcome of an open and competitive bidding process and to do sole sourcing.
He stated further that Section 10 (3) also gives the minister the power not to even begin the bidding process in the first place if the minister thinks the efficient way to go is sole sourcing.
These contradictions, Dr Adam insisted cannot be acceptable in the new law.
He argued the norm that has to be encouraged is open and competitive bidding but the exceptions introduced by way of clauses only serve to undermine the bidding process.
“We are going to see the exceptions being the norm. Because of the rent seeking behavior of public officials; because of the secrecy and opacity, because of the vested interest in the industry, you will see that ministers will take the exceptions to govern the contracting process rather than the norm which is the best practice,” he stated.
Dr Adam also questioned the rationale in not disclosing the beneficial ownership information of prospective winners of oil blocks in Ghana.
He said in Sudan, the new petroleum law demands that beneficial owners of oil blocks are disclosed. That should be incorporated in the new law, he insisted.
He was emphatic in his demand for amendments to the draft bill.
While agreeing that Parliament has an important role to play in rectifying some of these anomalies, he was quick to express concern about the increasing polarisation in the house.
He suspects the majority would use its numbers to rubber stamp bills before it and also accused the minority of not being thorough and vociferous enough to raise serious questions about the bills.
A member of Mines and Energy Committee in Parliament William Aidoo told Joy News the concerns of African Center for Energy Policy are legitimate.
He argued under the draft bill, it is almost as if the law gives with the right hand and takes back with the left hand what it has given with the right.
He hoped the draft would be thoroughly scrutinized in Parliament.
In a reaction, Communications Consultant for the Energy Ministry Edward Bawa said the ministry did its constitutional duty by drafting the bill, and added Parliament is the only institution that has power to pass these bills into law.
He expects that if, at all there are anomalies, Parliament is best placed to correct those anomalies.
He was quick to point out though, that the role of the minister, spelt out in Section 10 (2) and (3) of the draft bill will not necessarily be to override transparency in the bidding process but rather to protect local interest.
He said the minister will only act on the basis of “sound judgement” and not implement that part of the law “capriciously.”
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