Business News of Thursday, 14 June 2018
Technical Advisor on Energy and Petroleum Policy to the Minister for Planning and Development, Ishmael Ackah has advised that the Agricultural sector employ prudent investment plans to utilize funds apportioned there in order to promote inclusive growth and development in the country.
Speaking on the theme “Resourcing Inclusive Growth and Development in Ghana; the contribution of Oil and Gas” at a Policy Forum for Inclusive Growth for Sustainable Development, Ishmael Ackah noted that despite the consistent contribution from government using funds from the Oil and Gas sector, Agriculture still struggles with finances.
He stated that there could be a challenge regarding the ‘within priority expenditure’ resulting in the low output from the sector.
“… we are generating enough(oil money), the challenge has been within priority expenditure… because the law wanted us to diversify, select an area, invest oil revenues in. a time will come we’ll not have oil. Oil is exhaustible, when that comes we’ll still have a sector to depend on so in the wisdom of our policy makers priority areas were selected. For the first three years – 2011, 2012, 2013 agric, capacity building, roads and other infrastructure and amortization of loans were selected.
The same areas were repeated – 2014, 2015, 2016. 2017 agric, education, health and infrastructure were selected. What it means is that agriculture has been selected three times. So why do we still face challenges in the agriculture sector if agric has been selected…” he quizzed.
“… if we send the money to agric where do we really put the money. Is it fertilizer, is it irrigation, do we even have any plans.. That’s why I was calling for investment plans.”
He further recommended that some precautionary measures be taken to enable the sector maximize funds allocated there.
“If we take agric, that the next three years, first we have to know the financing gap in agric. How much money does agric need. If we identify the financing gap, we give them that money for three years, these are what we expect. Agric should grow by this, we should have this number of employments and all those things. Without that and we spend all the money, we may not have all the benefits we want to see.” he concluded.
In a related development, Mr. Ackah applauded government for their transparency. He indicated that government has been faithful in publishing reports under the various ministries.
He however lamented that accountability was not approached with the same keenness.
“If we take our sector, in fact in terms of transparency, government is doing very well. The Ministry of Finance is publishing, when you go to their website, reconciliation report, petroleum report and so many things. But if we say we shouldn’t spend this amount and we spend what happens to those who…
“…nobody is sanctioned, so yes we publish the reports that these are the number of projects we’re doing. A project that should have taken 6 months we’re using 3 years to do. Nobody is held accountable and that is a challenge”
“All I’m saying is that whilst we’re so much emphasizing on transparency, we should put enough pressure and energy into accountability and that can help us.”