‘Heritage Fund Proposal Evidence Of Greed’

Mr Allan Lassey of GIZ
A senior officer of the Extractive Resource Governance Unit at the German Development Cooperation (GIZ), Allan Lassey, has bemoaned the suggestion by some members of the ruling party, National Democratic Congress (NDC) that the Heritage Fund, which was set up under Act 815 that provides that a percentage of Ghana’s oil resources is lodged in a Heritage Fund to support development for future generations, should be squandered now.

‘This is a complete greed because the Heritage Fund was set up with the future of the unborn generations in mind, especially where oil is not renewable and that any attempt to spend the money now as being suggested will mean mortgaging the future of unborn generations,’ he said, adding that the suggestion to spend the money is just to serve the selfish interests of politicians who are at the helm of affairs.

The Heritage Fund has currently accumulated $120 million in less than three years after its establishment.

Mr Lassey, who was speaking at a workshop organised by GIZ and the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) for parliamentary correspondents on Ghana’s emerging oil industry at Elmina in the Central region, noted that Ghana must learn a major lesson from the mining industry where virtually all revenue goes to support the budget with nothing to show for several decades of mining activities in the country.

‘Local assemblies in mining areas receive just 10 percent of mining revenues and that there is no dedicated fund set up under mining to solve the country’s infrastructural problems particularly in the mining areas with mining towns now a pale shadow of themselves.’

He noted that a similar development occurred in Chad where the government of the day amended that country’s Heritage Fund Act and spent all the money in the fund, pointing out that the money was regrettably spent on arms to protect that regime.

He called on Ghana to learn a big lesson from Azerbaijan, a deprived oil country in Asia which has been able to accumulate a whopping $62 billion in its Heritage Fund over the years and is planning to invest that money to build a complete new ‘city’ to replace the biggest slum in the country and also use some to improve their infrastructure, especially roads.

He said a country like Norway in Europe has been able to save as much as $93 trillion in its Heritage Fund, which would be earmarked for huge and concrete development in that country.

The Executive Director of ACEP, Dr Mohammed Amin Adam, who also spoke at the workshop, said he was not against the spending of the money in the Heritage Fund in principle if it would have positive effect on future generations in whose name the fund had been set.

He however indicated that the present NDC government has shown clearly that it is not the government that ought to be entrusted with the spending of the money.

‘The NDC government has not properly accounted for our oil money with some of the oil money being misappropriated,’ he said, adding that some of the oil money was spent on the running of the presidency, which is clearly misappropriation of the funds.

From Thomas Fosu Jnr, Elmina

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