Minister assures of judicious use of revenues from mineral resources

Deputy Minister of Finance, Kwaku Kwarteng has pledged the government’s commitment to judiciously use revenues from the country’s mineral resources to accelerate the development of the country.

He also indicated that natural resources data would be made public and widely circulated to empower the general public to hold both in the extractive sector and the government accountable.

Mr Kwarteng said this in Accra on Tuesday, when they launched the 2016 Ghana Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (GHEITI) reports for the Mining and Oil and Gas sectors and Ghana Commodity Trading Pilot Report.

The 2016 reports bring to 13 the total number of reports produced so far for the mining sector and six reports for the oil and gas sector when the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) was extended to the oil and gas sector in September 2010, with the discovery in oil and commercial quantities.

The reports highlight on revenues that had been accrued to the state from the Mining and Oil and Gas sectors, contract and trading transparency, beneficial ownership disclosure, and make recommendations for the proper usage of the mineral revenues.

Mr Kwarteng said given that mineral resources were finite; there was the need to ensure transparent and prudent management of revenues from the Mining and Oil and Gas sectors.

“Government would not only ensure that the allocation of revenues best promote sustainable development but would also ensure that the processes and activities for the extraction of natural resources are fully integrated into community development planning in order to maximise their contribution of improving sustainable livelihoods in the areas where these resources are extracted,” he said.

Mr Kwarteng said the new Companies Bill which had been approved by Cabinet had provisions on beneficial ownership to make it obligatory for owners of companies in the Mining and Oil and Gas sector to be made public.

He said that the government would implement the recommendations made in the reports and initiate measures to address the concerns raised by the report to ensure that Ghana became fully compliant of the EITI standards, under the current review the country was going through.

The Co-Chair of GHEITI, Dr Steve Manteaw in an interview said even though the country was doing well on transparency standards; it was falling on accountability standards.

He said portions of the oil revenues had been expended on non-existent projects and also people who had fallen foul of the Petroleum Revenue Act were not being prosecuted.

Dr Manteaw also expressed concerns that recommendations made by the GHEITI Reports were not being acted on by the stakeholders concerned, stressing that if the “recommendations made by the GHEITI reports  will not be acted upon,  then there is  no need for government to spend money on producing the GHETI reports”.

Adelaide Addo-Fening, the Team Leader of the Ghana Oil and Gas for Inclusive Growth (GOGIC) whose organisation supported the development and publication of the reports said the launch of the reports “was another layer of transparency on how Ghana is managing her Mining and Oil and Gas resources.”

She said one of the mandates of GOGIG was to play an oversight role on the management of revenues from the country’s extractive sectors.

Ms Addo-Fening pledged her organisation’s continuous support to GHEITI to enable it deliver on its mandate.

By Kingsley Asare

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