Parliament has passed the Petroleum Revenue Management (Amendment) Bill 2015, which seeks to address some inconsis-tencies and operational challenges in the management of revenue from the oil and gas sector.
The Bill, which was passed in the House yesterday after its Third Reading, seeks to, among other things, ensure that the implementation of the previous Petroleum Revenue Management Act, Act 815 was generally in conformity with the intendment of the drafters.
According to the Deputy Minister of Finance, Cassiel Ato Forson, who moved the motion for the Third Reading, the bill would not only correct the typographical and other errors in Act 815 but also ensure consistent flow of revenue from the petroleum sector for national development.
The amended version of the petroleum revenue management regime also provides for the allocation of funds from the petroleum revenue to the Ghana Infrastructure and Investment Fund for the purposes of infrastructural development.
A report by the House’s Committee on Finance, chaired by James Klutse Avedzi, who seconded the motion for the Third Reading, noted that the Bill would make the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), an operator in the field and empower it to borrow on the strength of its own balance sheet and not to rely on central government guarantees.
It further noted that the amendment bill did not change the substance of Act 815, but clarified some issues for smooth implementation of the Act.
Members such as the Minority Spokesperson on Finance, Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, lauded the bill but cautioned that as much as the bill was empowering the corporation to borrow on its own balance sheet as a state-owned enterprise (SOE), it is important to make a provision to hold management of the corporation accountable.
“We should empower them to stand on their feet on one side but we should also hold them to account,” he said, during the debate on the Second Reading of the bill.
The Minority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, who also threw his weight behind the amended version of the bill, urged his colleagues to be cautious in passing certain laws so that they would not be returned to the House later for amendments.
During the debate on the bill, the Minority Leader observed that the House had, on some occasions, passed certain laws without cross-checking the clauses to ensure that their implementation would not create operational challenges.
He suggested that the rules of the House should be structured in a manner that would give members the opportunity to re-assess the amendments they proposed to bills after the Consideration Stage before their Third Reading.
“We need to find space to sniff out all the amendments before the Third Reading”.
“After the Consideration Stages of bills, we should be able to look at what we have done again”, he said.
By Yaw Kyei