‘Use oil revenue on identifiable projects’

Business News of Monday, 2 March 2015

Source: Graphic Online

Crude Oil 4

A member of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), Mr Yaw Owusu Addo, has called on the government to use proceeds from the country’s oil resource on projects that the people can easily identify with.

According to him, out of the billions accrued so far, there is no single project “Ghanaians can boast of to have come from the oil money,” a situation he described as unfortunate.

Speaking at a three-day workshop under the auspieces of the Institute of Economic and Financial Journalists (IFEJ) with support from the giz, he said other countries such as Botswana had used proceeds from diamonds to embark on massive infrastructural projects that present and future generations of that country could identify with and urged a similar practice in Ghana.

The workshop, which specifically discussed the 2013 report of PIAC, is the first in the series by IFEJ for the year and is meant to expose financial journalists to reports and happenings in the extractive sector of the country to enable them to better scrutinise developments as far as the oil and gas sector is concerned.

“We are aware of the fact that some of the monies have been used to defray debts while others have been used to complete projects already under construction and when that happens, we are unable to see what the value of the oil proceeds are,” he said.

Mr Owusu Addo said just like other extractive resources, oil will last a while and not forever, hence the need to ensure that the proceeds were well utilised for the benefit of the entire populace.

On the signing of agreements for the release of new blocks, he said the government had released 23 new blocks to companies whose ownership and identities are not clear to the people.

“These agreements were sent to Parliament and ratified under a certificate of urgency and we wonder why it was so because it makes the whole thing suspicious,” he said.

According to him, there are challenges with accounting in respect of the exact proceeds from the one block presently active and wondered what would happen when the 23 blocks also commence production.

According to him, efforts were underway to stop the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) from taking its share of the oil proceeds before the remaining was allocated to regular sources under the law.

The GNPC is expected to be funded with proceeds from the country’s oil revenue for 15 years in a bid to build it up to the capacity of other oil companies across the globe.

However, the corporation has come under intense criticism because of the manner to which it expends the money allocated to it.

For instance, last year, GNPC went up in arms to solicit a $700 million loan to embark on some major projects but at the same time, doled out more than $3 million to support the senior national team, the Black Stars which has consistently failed to justify the millions of dollars used on the team to bring laurels to the nation.

Against this background, Mr Owusu Addo stressed the need for proper guidelines to ensure that GNPC stayed within its tracks to avoid misuse of its funds.

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