Incorporate Mandatory Disclosure Clause In PEP Bill – ACEP

oil-gas-riser-e1346347061337-590x393The Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) has called on the government to incorporate a mandatory disclosure clause on oil and gas in the new Petroleum Exploration and Production (PEP)   Bill which has currently been drafted.

It has also tasked government to include in the PEP Bill disclosure of beneficial ownership in contract on all oil and gas.

Speaking at the launch of the ACEP maiden policy paper series on the oil and gas in Accra on Monday, the Executive Director of ACEP, Mohammed Amin Adam said the introduction of the mandatory contract disclosure and beneficial owners in contract clauses would promote transparency in the governance of the country’s oil and gas industry.

He said it would also address the situation  where  some  politicians  secretly establish oil and gas companies and award contract  to themselves and also help to determine owners of companies incorporated in secrecy  jurisdictions,  where the laws in those countries did not allow open disclosure of their contracts.

The   policy series authored by Mr Mohammed Amin Adam is on the theme ‘’Between a blessing and a curse – The state of oil governance in Ghana.’’

The 26-page report sponsored by Oxfam reviewed major   topical issues that cut across the oil and gas value chain from contracts, regulations, taxation, revenue distribution, investment and resource base development and also provides policy options and recommendations for the development of the oil and gas industry.

Mr Adam explained that the current legislations on oil and gas had no provisions for the mandatory disclosure of contracts on oil and gas and publishing the names of owners behind companies involved in contractual relations with government.

“There is no mandatory contract disclosure in Ghana’s petroleum legal frameworks.  The petroleum contracts that have been disclosed so far were done by ministerial directive,’’ he stated.

Presenting highlights of the report, the Executive Director emphasised the need for the government to hire independent auditing firms to conduct petroleum costing auditing and tax assessment of the oil companies to determine their tax liabilities.

He said the current practice where government relied on the self assessment of the oil and gas companies to determine their tax liabilities was not the best, saying the companies could massage their figures to evade paying the right tax due to the state.

Among other recommendations, Mr Adam suggested that the funding Policy of Public Interest and Accountability Committee should be reviewed and said the committee should be funded from the 30 per cents of the annual budget funding amount dedicated to recurrent expenditure.

‘’Government must develop a five-year grand strategy to upgrade all relevant institutions to appreciable levels and insulate them from donor funding as that could facilitate donor capture of the institutions and undermine their independence and primary duty to the Republic of Ghana,’’ he stated.

The government, Mr Adam said should develop a Public Investment Management Plan for the use of petroleum revenues and also declare  a moratorium on new petroleum agreements pending the finalisation of the PEP Bill.

The Extractive Industries Advocacy Officer of Oxfam, Richard Hato-Kuevor said the country should initiate measures not to repeat the mistakes in the mining sector to the oil and gas industry.

He said revenues accrued from the oil and gas sector should be used judiciously for the benefit of all the citizens.

Mr Hato-Kuevor entreated the media to continue to highlight on issues on  the oil and gas to make government accountable in the management of oil revenues and also explain issues on the oil and gas industry to the understanding of the ordinary citizens.

The Director of Policy Research of ACEP, John Peter Amewu commended Oxfam for sponsoring the publication of the ACEP policy papers.

He said the ACEP would periodically publish such policy paper on major issues affecting the country’s extractive industry. By Kingsley Asare

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