Participants at the first public meeting on the management of petroleum revenue, held in Takoradi in the Western Region, have called on Government to allocate portion of revenue accruing from oil to the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA).
This they said would enable the authority to meet the health needs of Ghanaians, particularly the aged, who sometimes could not afford quality health care.
The public meeting, organised by the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), was aimed at increasing access to information on revenue from the oil fields, ensuring accountability as well as soliciting public opinion on the usage of the fund.
The PIAC was formed in September 2011 after the establishment of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (ACT 815), to monitor and evaluate compliance with the Act by Government and other relevant institutions in the management of petroleum revenue.
The committee is also expected to provide a platform for public debate on spending prospects of the revenue in line with development priorities, as well as providing an independent assessment on the management and use of revenue.
Participants commended Government and the PIAC for the initiative, and said that funds allocated to the annual budget from the Petroleum Holding Fund must also be channelled into specific projects needs across the country.
They called for the initiation of scholarships for students, particularly those in the catchment areas of the oil find, in order to improve local content, training of media practitioners for better education and improvement of road networks within the Western Region.
The participants asked for proper documentation and storage of information at the national archives.
Some participants expressed disappointment at what they termed loose performance contract in which Ghana only gets 18 per cent of the total oil lifts from the companies operating in the jubilee fields, and the lack of a national edifice on the oil to serve as a tourist attraction.
Mr. Yaw Owusu Addo, Member of the Committee, said that the PIAC would serve as a platform for people to interrogate stakeholders on the usage of oil revenue to avoid any crisis as a result of mismanagement.
He said the Committee would continue to publish semi and annual report on the management of the revenue, to ensure transparency and accountability that often characterised such great national resource.
Nana Kobina Nketsiah, Omanhene of Essikado, called on Government to improve the rail network in the country, particularly in the region to overshoot the transport burden on the roads.
Ms Emelia Arthur, Deputy Western Regional Minister, asked the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies to educate the people on reports on oil transactions.
Mr. David Yaro, Chief Director of Regional Coordinating Council, was optimistic that speculations about malpractices in the oil and gas sector in other countries would be averted in Ghana through PIAC and asked the members to work hard to ensure transparency and allay the fears of Ghanaians of any resource curse.