The government of Ghana has been shown in another instance to have violated the country’s Petroleum Revenue Management law.
In a press release issued by the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), the statutory body established to provide an independent assessment of how petroleum revenues are managed and used as stipulated by the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, 2011 (Act 815), says 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.”
Meanwhile, in its first report the Committee found that that there was a compensating error in the distribution of funds to the Stabilisation and Heritage Funds, which together constitute the Petroleum Funds, leading to a slight deviation from the requirement of Act 815, Section 23(1)b: “A minimum of thirty percent of the excess revenue determined in subsection (1) (a) shall be transferred into the Ghana Heritage Fund and the balance shall be transferred into the Ghana Stabilisation Fund each quarter,” it noted.
According to the PIAC, one of the key findings of the report was that “Not all payments expected to go into the Ghana Petroleum Holding Fund were reported on. Act 815 covers all oil receipts and Section 6 of Act 815 lists surface rentals explicitly. The surface rentals were paid into Government of Ghana Non-Tax revenue account in 2011 and not accounted for in the Petroleum Holding Fund, nor were payments from the Saltpond field included.”
The PIAC press release said in answer to press queries about the Saltpond oilfield during the launch of its first report, the Chairman of the PIAC, Major Sowa Ablorh-Quarcoo, confirmed the Committee’s inability to obtain payment records from that oilfield into the Petroleum Holding Fund for 2011. In preparing the report, the Committee sent the draft report for validation by staff members at the Ghana Revenue Authority and the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation. The Committee therefore published the 2011 Annual Report in good faith based on the information it had available.
“The PIAC welcomes the information that has been released through the Energy Ministry’s statement as it allows the public to know what has been paid from the Saltpond Field and goes to confirm the Committee’s firm position that not a pesewa was paid from the Saltpond oilfield into the Petroleum Holding Fund during the 2011 fiscal year, but rather paid into the Non-Tax Revenue Account,” it said.
According to the PIAC, in their statement, the Ministry of Energy said that “Surface rental of $605 for 2011 is yet to be paid to Government by SOPCL (Saltpond Offshore Producing Company Ltd).”
“In the view of PIAC, no matter how paltry that amount may seem, SOPCL should take urgent steps to pay amounts owed and the revenue collection authorities should ensure the full amounts and penalties paid as swiftly as possible,” it added.
The PIAC also emphasized that it is not an interest group but a statutory body set up in the wisdom of the people of Ghana as one of the key mechanisms to ensure that the nation’s oil find does not become a curse but a blessing.
In pursuance of its mandate, therefore, the PIAC encourages all relevant bodies connected with the management and use of Ghana’s oil revenue to demonstrate their commitment to implementing the recommendations made in the 2011 Petroleum Revenue Management Annual report, it said.
“Finally, recommendation 3 of the Committee reports reads “MOFEP should take steps to account for the 2011 unaccounted proceeds in the Petroleum Holding Fund in a special report to Parliament and ensure that all receipts are reported on in future.”
“We therefore wait for this action to be taken by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning,” it said.