PIAC’s existence under threat due to lack of funds
The Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) is yet to receive funding for its operations from government as the budget statement makes no provision for it.
The situation, which dates back to the inception of the committee in 2011, is threatening its survival and operations.
PIAC was created by the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, PRMA (Act 815) to serve as a watchdog of the country’s nascent oil and gas industry.
Its current financial constraint has not only stalled its ability to carry out its mandate bestowed on it by the act, it also has caused the committee and its members to operate from the offices of the Revenue Watch Institute (RWI) in Accra.
Although, PIAC is mandated under Section 51 of the ACT to exercise independent oversight over the management of petroleum revenues, the committee has been able to issue only two reports; an annual report for 2011 and a half year report in 2012.
The issue of unavailability of funds for PIAC dominated discussions at a stakeholder’s roundtable on a draft report on government compliance with the PRMA.
It was organised by the Centre for Public Interest Law (CEPIL) with support from STAR Ghana, a multi-donor agency.
In an interview with the GRAPHIC BUSINESS, the Executive Director of CEPIL, Mr Augustine Niber, explained that the act which necessitated the creation of PIAC only provided for compensation in terms of allowances for members of the committee.
“No financial provisions were made as to how the committee would carry out its mandate and because of this, for some time now, PIAC has not been able to perform fully. It now depends on (financial) support from NGOs and other partners,” he revealed.
This development, he explained was not the best for the committee, especially given that it limited its ability to function efficiently.
To enable PIAC act responsibly and perform its functions to the fullest, Mr Niber said it needed cosntant source of funding and the law must make provision for that.
The Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), Mr Mohammed Amin Adam, expressed surprise as to how a law can create a body and yet make no provision for the funding of its operations.
“Today, the Ministry of Finance makes no provision for the funding of PIAC but how would you fault the ministry”, he quizzed, but added that “because there is no authorisation.”
Violations of PRMA
The draft report, which was made available to the GRAPHIC BUSINESS, revealed that the revenue benchmarks used in the 2013 budget statement of government were not in compliance with the appropriate formula hence a lot of under projections.
It also said the directive from government for the creation of an Infrastructure Fund from the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) introduces a fund alien to the law.
The law it, explained allows for the creation of the Petroleum Holding Fund, the Ghana Stabilisation Fund, the Ghana Heritage Fund and the Petroleum Wealth Fund.
By Jessica Acheampong/Graphic Business/Ghana
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