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GhC 83m oil cash built no capacity

  • SOURCE: Business Finder | Isaac Aidoo

  • Investigations carried out by Business Finder into the use of some GH¢83million from Ghana’s petroleum revenues by the Scholarship Secretariat in 2016 have revealed that the oil funds were misused.

    Our checks revealed that the funds captured under the capacity building priority area had no specific directives to build the capacity of Ghanaian students in the oil and gas sector.
    Registrar of the Scholarship Secretariat, Mr Kingsley Agyemang told this paper the money was received as part of the Secretariat’s allocation from the Ministry of Finance through the Accountant Generals Department for payment of students’ scholarships and other expenses.
    Denying knowledge of the source of the said GH¢83million, Mr Agyemang explained “we receive government funding and the Secretariat has no means of checking the source of the funds; they come from government and are meant for payment of scholarships.”
    “Whether funds released to us are coming from petroleum revenues, from taxes or from wherever we are unable to tell; what we can say is that we receive funds from government for payment of scholarships and it doesn’t lie within our mandate to check the source,” the Registrar explained.
    According to Mr Agyemang, the budget for the entire 2016 was in the neighbourhood of GH¢200million.
    “Our budget from the office here to pay for scholarships, stipends and others amounted to almost GH¢350million but what was approved was GH¢200million.
    He pointed out that the said GH¢83million from petroleum revenues “is to us just a drop in the ocean looking at the budget we deal with. It was just a fraction of our financial needs for 2016.”

    The Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) in its 2016 annual report on management of petroleum revenues in Ghana had revealed that GH¢83m allocated to the Capacity Building priority area in 2016 transferred to the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) however this paper’s checks from the Ministry of Finance’s petroleum reports for 2016 said “total spending on Capacity Building (including oil and gas) amounted to GH¢83.04million. These were mainly transfers to the Scholarship Secretariat for the payment of scholarship claims.”
    GH¢6m oil cash paid to Scholarship Secretariat, February 2017
    Checks from the 2017 Annual Report on Petroleum Funds prepared by the Ministry of Finance revealed that an amount of GH₵6.0 million from petroleum revenues was paid to the Scholarship Secretariat to settle scholarship claims.

    The payment to the Secretariat was made in February 2017 prior to the revision of the priority areas for the utilisation of the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA).

    GH¢142m goes into social interventions under capacity building
    According to PIAC, in 2015, ¢142million allocated to the Capacity Building priority area was channeled into educational programmes and social interventions that had nothing to do with the oil and gas sector.
    The Committee in its report found it interesting that the educational programmes and social interventions funded under capacity building priority area were also listed in the 2015 budget statement as programmes to be implemented under the education sector.
    “No part of the ABFA allocation to the Capacity Building Priority Area was used to fund any capacity building in the oil and gas sector,” PIAC said.
    PIAC is on record to have observed that “the capacity building priority area appears to be a category under which certain expenditure items which may not be related to capacity building have been classified.”
    Government, PIAC said should endeavour to focus its expenditure under the capacity building priority area on interventions that will directly enhance the capacity and capabilities of Ghanaians to play a bigger role in the emerging oil and gas industry.

     

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