LET US SUPPORT THE PIAC TO ENSURE PROPER USE OF OIL MONEY

THE Public Interest Accountability Committee (PIAC), the independent statutory body mandated to promote transparency and accountability in the management of petroleum revenues, has once again expressed its misgivings about the utilisation of Ghana’s oil revenues.

While engaging 40 selected journalists from across the country in Ho over the weekend on the various activities of the PIAC, Dr Steve Manteaw, Chairman of the PIAC said the use of petroleum revenue to tackle too many national projects at the same time had weakened the potential impact of oil proceeds on the country’s socio-economic development.

This is not the first time the Committee has expressed concern about the utilisation of oil proceeds, some of which includes breach of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, Act 815.

For example in April 2018, the PIAC said following inspection of projects in the Northern, Upper East and West Regions, the PIAC wrote to the Ministry of Finance for explanation on projects it said were “non-existent.”

“As we speak, the letter is yet to be acknowledged, let alone acted upon. We, are, therefore, compelled to compile a list of these ‘ghost’ projects and refer them to the Auditor-General for further investigation,” the Committee had claimed.

Again in June 2018, the Committee said Section 21 (4) of Act 815 had been breached in the utilisation of the oil proceeds in 2017, when the government used only 37 per cent of the utilized Annual Budgetary Funding Amount (ABFA) for capital expenditure.

“For any financial year, a minimum of 70 per cent of the Annual Budget Funding Amount shall be used for public investment expenditures consistent with the long-term national development plan,” section 21(4) of the Act states.

These among many exclamations of the PIAC, underscores the uncoordinated manner in which revenue from the oil sector is being used.

So far, the most substantial infrastructure as a country we can point to as being the investment from the oil and gas sector, is the Atuabo Gas infrastructure valued at about US$1 billion; not to suggest though, that the oil money has not been invested in other areas of the economy.

The point here is that, projects being funded from proceeds from the oil sector, since the country started exploring the commodity in 2010, has been scattered and their impact on the country cannot be felt.

There is no substantial evidence to show for all the monies we have as a country realised from the gold and other extractive industry, we must not allow the petrochemical industry travel the same tangent.

In the wisdom of the framers of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, realising the need to put the oil cash into use to benefit the present and unborn generations, they advocated for the establishments of funds under the Act to direct us on how the proceeds should be utilised.

Some of these funds include the Ghana Stabilisation, Ghana Heritage, the Ghana Petroleum and Petroleum Holding Funds.

It is, however, surprising that the political class which actually drafted the Act and the inherent funds would be breaching it with impunity, as the PIAC claims.

It is for these reasons that the Ghanaian Times urges civil society, the political class, the media, and the citizenry to rally behind the PIAC to ensure that the usage of the oil cash was well coordinated so that the intended benefit is felt by the ordinary Ghanaian.

Let our oil be a true blessing to us and not a curse as it has been in other places. Ghanaians have not felt the real impact of the solid extractive mineral sector and will be most disappointed to see the oil sector travel the tangent.

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