PIAC worried about govt’s over-reliance on petroleum revenues …in solving national problems

The Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), has expressed worry about the over-reliance of government on the country’s petroleum revenue in solving national problems.

The act, it said was weakening the potential impacts of oil revenues on the socio-economic development of Ghana.

Speaking at an Engagement with Tertiary students in Accra yesterday, the Chairman of PIAC, Professor Kwame Adom-Frimpong, called on government to find alternative sources of funding for the Free Senior High School (SHS) flagship project.

He explained that the volatile nature of petroleum revenues would someday put the Free SHS programme at risk and in turn defeat the purpose of the project.

“Due to the volatile nature of petroleum revenues, funding sources for the free SHS programme need to be diversified, “he said.

Prof Adom-Frimpong noted that the country’s petroleum revenue accumulated for the past 10 and half years from January 2011 to June 2021 amounted to $6.90 billion which he explained had already been used to fund developmental projects.

He indicated that if the government had not over-relied on the fund it could have been channeled to other sectors to support projects which Ghanaians could identify.

Touching on how the fund was used, Prof Adom-Frimpong explained that government had 12 priority areas namely, infrastructure development, alternative energy sources development, and potable water and sanitation which in every term, he said prioritise four key areas to use the petroleum revenue to develop.

The current government, he explained was using the revenue to develop the agriculture, road, railway, and other crucial infrastructure, physical infrastructure, and service delivery in education and health as well as industrialisation.

“PIAC believes there ought to be a properly conducted impact evaluation of priority areas to proceed the selection of new areas,” he added.

Prof Adom-Frimpong regretted that as of 2020 the Ghana Heritage Fund (GHF) had and an amount of $644.79 million while the Ghana Stabilisation Fund (GSF) had $199.99 million as the petroleum reserved fund.

On his part, Dr. Samuel Antwi, the Vice Dean of the school of graduate studies, University of Professional Studies Accra (UPSA) urged the citizenry to hold government accountable.

He called on government to use the petroleum fund judiciously, adding that “as government is using the petroleum revenue to fund free SHS he could use the same fund to also support non-brilliant students to acquire skills.”                                                                                          

The programme formed part of PIAC’s 10 years celebration to inform the youth on the nine years of petroleum production in Ghana and what the citizenry needs to know about the petroleum fund as well as what it is used for.

BY JOYCELINE NATALLY CUDJOE AND BENJAMIN ARCTON-TETTEY

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