General News of Thursday, 19 February 2015
Source: Graphic Online
The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) has urged the government to publish information on oil and gas contracts as well as improve on the process of licensing oil companies.
Speaking at a news conference in Accra yesterday to launch a monitoring report on the management of Ghana’s oil and gas resource, a visiting fellow of the IEA, Professor John Asafu-Adjaye, said the appeal had become necessary in order to ensure transparency and accountability in that sector.
The research, named, “Tracking Transparency and Accountability in Ghana’s Oil and Gas Industry (P-TRACK Index), is a project undertaken by IEA periodically to promote transparency and accountability in the management of Ghana’s oil and gas resources and enhance the level of responsibility on the part of policy makers.
The primary objective of the project is to develop qualitative and quantitative indicators that can be used to monitor aspects of the oil and gas value chain, namely revenue, expenditure and contract transparency in the management of the heritage and stabilisation funds.
Prof. Asafu-Adjaye said the IEA observed a steady progress in efforts to improve revenue transparency over its previous two reports.
He said the main improvements had come from the frequency and availability of reports.
Among some of the recommendations, the report underscored the need for the Bank of Ghana (BOG) to publish timely reports on the Ghana Heritage and Stabilisation funds.
The report said although there was no statutory mandate for agencies such as the Ministry of Energy, Ghana National Petroleum Commission and the Ghana Revenue Authority to publish information on the oil and gas industry on their websites, “they strongly recommend frequent publication of information by all line agencies to enhance transparency and accountability”.
It said efforts should be made to build the capacity of and adequately provide resources for key public agencies such as the Petroleum Commission, the Public Interest Accountability Committee (PIAC) and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that had oversight responsibilities over the oil and gas industry.
The report also recommended the passage of the Budget Act to promote more comprehensive scrutiny of the budget.
”We advocate a more open and transparent licensing process to prevent the abuse of discretionary powers by the licensing authority,” it said .
The report, among other things, called on the Auditor-General to publish the audited reports on the Ghana Heritage and Stabilisation funds,adding that three reports were to be published but to date that had not been done.