For two consecutive years, the Ministry of Finance has failed to transfer five per cent of the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) of the country’s oil revenue to the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF) as required by law.
The Supreme Court in the case of Kpodo and Another versus Attorney-General in 2019 ruled that the Ministry should release the allocation to the DACF for development projects at the local level.
However, the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) report on the management and use of petroleum revenues revealed that the ministry paid 1.74 per cent of ABFA in 2021 and 2.39 per cent in 2022.
At a media workshop in Keta in the Volta Region on Saturday, the Vice Chairman of PIAC, Nasir Alfa Mohammed, said the situation was affecting progress of development projects in the assemblies.
The two-day training organised by the Committee and the German Development Corporation (GIZ) was meant to deepen the understanding of members of the parliamentary press corps and the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists (IFEJ), on oil revenue management and use.
The 2022 Annual Report covers the period January to December 2022 and encompasses issues on production, liftings, revenues and allocation by Government, ABFA utilisation and performance of various institutions.
Per the PIAC report, total petroleum revenue in 2022, the highest for a single year since inception of petroleum production in the country, was US$1.43 billion.
The revised projected ABFA for 2022 was GH¢6,126.17 million for 2022, meaning amount of GH¢205 million was to be disbursed to the District Assembly Common Fund for 2022, representing 51.36 per cent.
But the report said according to the Ministry of Finance, actual ABFA disbursed to the DACF for 2022 was GH¢105,281,567.06, representing 2.39 per cent of total ABFA utilisation for 2022.
That notwithstanding, the funds disbursed were used for projects such as the construction of markets, vocational and technical blocks, dormitory block and the supply of dual desks to basic schools across the country.
In order to enable the assemblies to finish these projects for use by the residents of the respective assemblies, Mr Mohammed urged the Ministry of Finance to comply by the court’s ruling.
On inspection of ABFA-funded projects, the Committee inspected 29 ABFA of them in seven regions and 26 out of the projects visited, the ABFA component constituted an average of 57.31 per cent of the project contract sum.
“The contract sum of the remaining three projects was not available to the Committee at the time of the inspection. The only project that was completed at the time of PIAC’s visit was fully funded with the ABFA,” the report said.
In her welcome address, the Acting Chair of the Public Affairs and Communications Sub-committee of PIAC, Emerita Professor Elizabeth Ardayfio-Schandorf, commended the media for their role in putting the government in check and urged the journalists to continue the advocacy for prudent use of the country’s oil resources.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR