The Mahama-led government has been accused of lacking foresight and constantly managing Ghana by “crisis, according to a former Deputy Minister of Finance under the Kufuor administration, Professor Gyan Baffour.
“The problem with this government is they lack foresight, they cannot anticipate anything, they wait till there is a problem and then they try to manage it. So they are managing this country by crisis,” he complained.
The former Deputy Minister was responding to a proposal by the General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Johnson Asiedu Nketia, suggesting that the oil revenue reserved for future generations in the Ghana Heritage Fund be used to solve Ghana’s problems now.
The Ghana Heritage Fund was set up to ensure inter-generational equity and to provide an endowment to support development for future generations when petroleum reserves have been depleted.
But he explained it does not make economic sense to keep the money while the nation’s economy is in crisis.
Mr. Nketia also suggested the money could be used to undertake major infrastructural and other developmental projects now for the benefit of the future generation.
Prof. Baffour in an interview on Eyewitness News, recalled he was against the setting up of the Ghana Heritage Fund because “when you have a deficit in development…you don’t go and put some money, stash it in an account somewhere… and bureaucrats actually feed on that money.
And when 30 years down the road you go and then tell your grandson or your children that I have some money sitting in some account for you. Then they will ask you; ‘are you stupid?’ And you didn’t use that money to build the roads for us, you didn’t educate us…”
According to him, the NDC in a bid to score political points “and look good” decided to force the setting up of the Ghana Heritage Fund because “they went to see other countries that had done it like that…they just took the law from those countries and put it flat in our face”.
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Legislator for Wenchi chastised the NDC’s law making method of “cut and paste,” adding that, “they should have foreseen this thing long ago, that the deficits were there so the laws should not have been that way and they should have followed our thinking but they didn’t”.
The former Deputy Minister nevertheless agreed the law can be changed to grant access to government to utilize the fund as being proposed by Mr. Nketia, but changing the law which has not stood the test of time according to him is unwise, as “its utility is destroyed from the word go.”
He however cautioned the NDC government not to touch the money because the current balance in the fund is not sufficient to salvage the nation’s ailing economy, therefore, “it’s just going to be wasted immediately you bring it in here”.
Ghana started producing crude oil in commercial quantities on the Jubilee oil field in 2011 and currently produces about 102,503 barrels of oil per day (bopd) in the first three quarters of 2013.
In March 2011, Parliament approved a legislation on petroleum management which saw the creation of Petroleum Funds by the Petroleum Management Revenue Act 2010.
The Ghana Heritage Fund is for the future generation of the nation while the Ghana Stabilization Fund is to cushion the impact or sustain public expenditure capacity in periods of revenue shortfalls.
Together, these two funds are known as the Ghana Petroleum Funds.