PIAC’s existence threatened ; As gov’t funding not forthcoming

Business News of Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Source: Graphic Online

Ghana Cedis 19Nov2010

The Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), the body established by law to among other things monitor and evaluate compliance with the management and use of the country’s petroleum revenues, is broke.

Allocations from the government which includes allowances to get the committee functioning has not been released for months, leaving PIAC in a state of hopelessness.

This is said to be hampering the effort of the committee to effectively and timeously deliver its mandate, chief of which is the monitoring of the country’s oil revenues.

These revelations came to light on February 27, 2015 at a workshop for financial journalists at Dodowa.

The just ended three-day workshop, organised by the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists (IFEJ) with support from Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), discussed the 2013 report of PIAC.

It was also revealed that but for the intervention of Ghana’s foreigner partners, the committee would not have had an official office from where it would operate after it was evicted from its old office for non-payment of rent last year.

Although the Finance Ministry is reported to have pledged to release some funds for the renewal of the tenancy agreement, nothing was done until the foreign partners intervened.

This practice, according to some industry watchers, is common in many oil producing countries, particularly those in the developed world.

According to them, it is done deliberately by governments to prevent constitutional bodies mandated to monitor the flow and use of oil funds from doing so.

It further came to light that as a result of the lack of funds, the committee is not able to release reports regularly, as per its mandate.

The situation is said to be affecting the consistent and transparent flow of information to the public with regard to the use of oil revenues accruing to the state, and the people of Ghana for that matter.

The Committee is required, under the same law establishing it, (Section 51 of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act 2011, Act 815), to issue a report every six months to keep track of how petroleum revenues received during such periods are being used and accounted for by the government and various state agencies which have responsibilities to manage the recourse.

Since its inauguration in 2011, the PIAC has been able to publish only five reports, including that of 2013.

It has become one of the most sacrosanct reports revered by the public because of the manner in which is captures in-depth information about the use of oil revenues in an independent and transparent manner.

The report has always covered a broad range of issues associated with petroleum revenue management such as information on production, liftings, total revenues accruing, allocation and utilisation of these revenues by the government and the management of the funds set aside in the Ghana Petroleum Funds (Ghana Stabilisation Fund and the Ghana Heritage Fund).