Four major oil-funded projects that were listed as completed in the Northern, Upper West and Brong Ahafo Regions cannot be traced, Kumasi Institute of Technology, Energy and Environment (KITE) has revealed after a visit to proposed oil-funded project sites.
The four missing projects were: a 3-unit classroom block at Soo in the West Mamprusi district of the Northern Region; a six-unit classroom block at Ntariba, in the Kintampo Municipal of the Brong Ahafo Region; the T.I. Ahmadiyya Primary in the Wa East district of the Upper West Region; and the Yeliyeri Dam, also in the Wa East district of the Upper West Region.
According to the think-tank, about four out of the 31 projects they inspected between 2010 – 2016 could not be traced. However, 63% of the projects had been completed and were in use by intended beneficiaries.
The inspected projects span across all sectors of the economy: including education, energy, agriculture as well as infrastructure.
At a stakeholders’ workshop for dissemination of findings from evaluation of key provisions in the Petroleum Revenue Management Act held in Accra, the Executive Director of KITE, Ishmael Edjekumhene said: “We visited only 31 out of about 500, and the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) has also done 40 – and they were telling us that they couldn’t find some of the projects as well. So, unless somebody proves to us that those projects are in the new places that they said they are, then somebody has to account for exactly where the money went”.
According to KITEs, the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) has been rendered ineffective because of the decision to spread the revenue thinly over several projects, thereby minimising it’s potential transformational impact.
The study also revealed that reporting on projects and activities funded by the ABFA has been unsatisfactory because available information lacked details, which makes it nearly impossible for independent monitoring.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of a workshop, Ishmael Edjekumhene said: “We put too much faith in the ABFA and PIAC. So, after 6-7 years of this experiment we sought out to find out whether indeed the ABFA and PIAC have served the purpose for which they were set up”.
He added that there is so little information on the projects, apart from the ones that the Ministry of Finance put in their reports.
“Our experience in trying to follow some of the projects was extremely difficult; meanwhile, the law is clear that no information should be withheld as far as oil and gas is concerned. So, we haven’t spent the money well – and not necessarily because someone is squandering the money, because you go to the ground and you don’t see the project,” he lamented.
Ishmael Edjekumhene recommended that focus be shifted to working on a few projects at a time which can be fully completed to serve as a legacy from the oil revenue.
“The resource won’t be there forever because it is not infinite. If we don’t make another discovery soon, Jubilee will be hitting decline in no time. We need to follow what the law is telling us to do. The law said don’t spend on more than four priority areas; and when you start the project, finish it. It continues to say don’t change until after three years,” he cautioned.
Ishmael called on the Auditor General to do a follow-up on the issue, as there was no evidence of projects in some areas KITE visited.
Since 2014, the Kumasi Institute of Technology, Energy and Environment (KITE) has been leading a consortium of researchers from the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) and the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) to implement a 3-year impact evaluation research titled ‘Examining Transparency and Accountability within the Oil and Gas Sector: Impact Evaluation of Key Provisions in Ghana’s Petroleum Revenue Management Act’.
The study sought to investigate the effectiveness of two notable provisions of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA) – the creation of a Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) and Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) – for enhancing transparency and accountability in the management of petroleum revenues in Ghana.