The Ghana government has abandoned the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), almost one year after the committee’s inauguration.
It appears the government is intent on demoralizing the committee and stalling its work.
The committee has no office, equipment and members have not been paid allowances, and as a result, the committee’s first half year report for 2012, which should have been released in September has delayed.
“Nobody has given us even a sheet of paper, we have not been paid any allowance,” a distraught member who doesn’t want to be named has said.
The member told ghanabusinessnews.com, the committee relies on the goodwill of some NGOs to do its work. “When an NGO gave us support in the past, some people attacked it. It is now even afraid to assist us anymore,” the member added.
Following up on the Committee’s report for 2011, which was released in May 2012, ghanabusinessnews.com contacted members of the committee to find out why the report for the half of 2012 has delayed. Instead, we found a frustrated but determined committee using its own resources and whatever it could find to do its duty to the people of Ghana.
The committee was established as a requirement of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act. It has the responsibility to monitor and evaluate compliance with the Act by government and other relevant institutions in the management and use of petroleum revenues and investments.
It was to provide independent assessment of how petroleum revenues are managed and used as stipulated by the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, 2011 (Act 815).
At the recently held African Development Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the PIAC was cited by Mr. Emmanuel Kuyole of the Revenue Watch Institute as a good sign that Ghana was doing everything right to avoid the resource curse that has afflicted so many resource rich African countries. The Forum focused on looking at how best Africa’s rich natural resources can benefit its people.
The committee member however, told ghanabusinessnews.com, “we are working hard to release the half year report for 2012 very soon.”
In its first report released in May 2012, the committee found that the government had violated the country’s Petroleum Revenue Management law.
It said in a press release that the Ministry of Energy has made payments from oil revenues into an account different from the one established by the law.
According to the PIAC, a statement by the Ministry of Energy published in the press on May 23, 2012 in reaction to its report, released May 17, 2012 is a confirmation of that action which is contrary to the law.
The Ministry, as the PIAC points out is indicating that oil revenues from the Saltpond oilfield in 2011 were paid into the Government Non-Tax Revenue Account.
But according to the PIAC, “This account is quite different from the Petroleum Holding Fund into which they were required to make the payments further to the passage of Act 815 in April 2011.”