‘Clothe PIAC with powers to enforce recommendations’

Participants at a forum on petroleum revenue management held in Takoradi on Wednesday, have called for a strong implementation of recommendations of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) by Parliament.

The participants

This, they believed, would strengthen accountability and good feedbacks on the use of oil moneys.

They also advocated the need for PIAC to be clothed with powers to enforce its recommendations.

They further argued strong citizen engagement as to how oil funds were allocated to the Annual Budget Funding Account (ABFA), to ensure transparency and value for money, and also ensure that projects were tailored to satisfy the needs and aspirations of the people in the communities.

These views were expressed after a member of PIAC, Ahaji Ahmad S. Anderson had delivered a presentation on the management and utilisation of petroleum revenue in Ghana,at a forum organised by friends of the Nations (FON) with supports from OXFAM in Takoradi.

The participants mentioned that with the surge in oil prices which presently stood at $100 per barrel, PIAC should recommend that government should use the windfall to cushion Ghanaians from the hardship they faced today.

Contributing to the discussions, the District Planning Officer of Shama District Assembly (SDA), Alhaji Mohammed Abu, said PIAC should be able to enforce its recommendations in accordance with its mandates.

“Your recommendations must be enforceable.PIAC should be able to bite without fear or favour. It needs the teeth to bite anybody because the Act gives it the powers,” he said, asking “What are the issues that it can’t bite?”

Alhaji Abu suggested that the Heritage Fund should be used to fund some of the legacy projects, saying that “else if we leave it, one day, somebody will come and use.”

The Budget Analyst at SDA, Nana Yartel, also suggested capacity-building programmes for PIACfor   it  to  effectively  play  its accountability  roles  and also ensure value for  money, adding “you need to also  visits the rig to  understand  the realities on ground and ask the right questions.”

Responding to the discussions on revenue benchmark, Alhaji Anderson, said the law required that any windfall accrued should be lodged into the Stabilisation Fund, and suggested that the amount could be used to subsidise fuel prices if that was the wish of Ghanaians.

“We should decide that, if at all times, there is any increase of fuel prices, we can use the windfall to cushion social life, we can do it, if we want it,” he added.

Alhaji Anderson mentioned that Ghana was faced with fuel increases which prices were determined on the international markets, adding “we don’t even have the refinery to produce oil.”

PIAC accounts, he said, was subjected to checks from External and Internal Auditors periodically and was not insulated from checks, saying “this is to ensure that we do the right thing.”

Another PIAC member, Dr Emmanuel YamoahTenkorang, told participants that the committee made recommendation to the Finance Committee of Parliament with copies to the Presidency.

He assured that PIAC would continue with advocacy through its recommendations for accountability in the petroleum revenue management, but, however, noted that “for now, we don’t have the teeth to bite.”

FROM CLEMENT ADZEI BOYE, TAKORADI

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