The Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) has expressed concern about the reliance on petroleum revenue as a key funding source of the Free Senior High School (SHS) programme.
To this end, it has advocated a diversification of the funding sources to include taxes.
Professor Kwame Adom Frimpong, Chairman of PIAC, addressing a forum on ten years of oil exploration in Ghana in Accra yesterday, said petroleum revenues could not be relied upon to finance the programme due to its volatile nature.
The forum, organised for the Coastal Belt, was on the theme: “Strengthening Citizens’ Ownership and Understanding of PIAC and its Oversight of Petroleum Revenue Management.”
“Though a good social intervention policy, the Committee is concerned about the reliance on petroleum revenue as a key funding source for the Free SHS programme.
“It is not a sustainable practice and we cannot rely on a funding source with a life span to fund a long-term programme like the Free SHS,” he stated.
Implementation of the programme, he said, could be in jeopardy if revenues reduce as a result of a fall in oil exploration.
He explained that the current situation put undue pressure on petroleum revenues, making it inadequate to finance other equally important developmental projects.
“Petroleum revenues have been used to tackle too many national problems at the same time, weakening the potential impacts of oil revenues on the socio-economic development of Ghana,” Professor Frimpong stated.
He reiterated the need for a long-term National Development Plan, as stipulated in Section 2I (2)(d) of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA) to guide the spending of petroleum revenues instead of resorting to the fallback position of Ministerial discretion in selecting priority areas for funding.
That the Chairman noted would curtail incompletion, and in some cases abandonment of projects by successive governments, leading to wastage.
He proposed that some legacy projects be identified and supported by the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) to ensure petroleum revenues impact the socio-economic growth of Ghanaians.
Since 2011, he said, the country had received petroleum revenues amounting to US$6.9 billion which had been utilised to support critical areas including education, agriculture, health and transport infrastructure, among others.
In a speech read on his behalf, Henry Quartey, Greater Accra Regional Minister, highlighted the need for accountability and transparency in the management of petroleum revenues to the benefit of Ghanaians.
He urged Ghanaians to be participatory and help in the development of policies and strategies that would influence the management of those revenues.
BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS & ANITA ANKRAH