One of the institutions that have come to be appendages of democratic rule in the country is the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC).
Established by Section 51 of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, 2011 (Act 815) as amended and inaugurated on September 15, 2011, PIAC has the mission to ensure efficient, transparent and accountable management of petroleum revenues and investments to secure the greatest social and economic benefit for the people of Ghana through active engagement with government and citizens.
It is expected to maintain a balanced stance, show high integrity and parry sectional influences
Besides, it has the mandate of ensuring transparency and accountability in the management and use of petroleum revenues in Ghana.
Its specific mandate as outlined in the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA) comprises monitoring and evaluating compliance with the PRMA by government and relevant institutions in the management and use of petroleum revenues and investments; providing space and platform for the public to debate on whether spending prospects and management and use of revenues to conform to development priorities as provided under section 21 (3) of the Act; and providing independent assessment of the management and use of petroleum revenues, to assist Parliament and the Executive in the oversight and the performance of related functions.
One way the PIAC informs the public of its mandate is the issuance of reports.
Just yesterday, the Committee launched one such reports in Accra, which was titled ‘Assessment of the management and use of Ghana’s Petroleum Revenues (2011-2020)’.
The report examines how revenues from the country’s petroleum resources have been utilised over the 10-year-period since it discovered oil in commercial quantities.
It is interesting to note that more thanUS$1 billion dollars allocated to the Ghana Stabilisation Fund (GSF) from 2011 to 2020 has been used for debt repayment.
The objective of the GSF is to cushion the impact on or sustain public expenditure capacity during periods of unanticipated petroleum revenue shortfalls.
According to the report, 21 per cent of the GSF was allocated to the Contingency Fund to deal with national emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic and another four per cent to shore up Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) shortfalls.
This is good but the question is, was it not possible to allocate a bigger percentage to shore up ABFA so the country could have reduced its percentage borrowing to shore up its budgets over the decade under review?
Well, let the economists take up that question and digest it to the understanding of the citizenry.
It appears PIAC is prosecuting its mandate for if nothing at all, it keeps informing the public about how the country’s petroleum revenues are being expended and gives recommendations as to dealing with challenges to ensure sanity in the system.
However, there seem to be some weaknesses or challenges that tend to undermine its achievements and these must be addressed.
For instance, during the launch of the 10th anniversary of PIAC in Accra on March 24, 2021, a former Chairman of the committee, Dr Steve Manteaw, called on the government to ensure that recommendations made by the PIAC were implemented to ensure that the country moved from transparency to accountability in managing petroleum revenues.
Dr Manteaw’s statement clearly borders on monitoring to achieve transparency and avoid misapplication of public funds for he said the implementation of the recommendations would ensure that investment in public projects go to where they are most needed, drive cost efficiency and stem distortion of resource allocations and priorities.
The Ghanaian Times would continuously praise public institutions seen to be working and equally prompt those found to be sleeping on the job to wake up to the occasion and help enhance national development and as well join calls for assistance for those public institutions which seriously need government interventions.
To this end, this paper joins Dr Manteaw in calling for the implementation of all PIAC recommendations.
Peradventure, that move would help cure recurrent malady in petroleum revenue expenditure and, by extension, the public revenue and expenditure in general.