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Journalists urged to update knowledge of oil, gas sector

oil and gas 17thAfrican journalists from countries rich in natural resources have been asked to learn the terminology of the industry to enrich their reports and protect the interests of their countries.

Various speakers at this year’s oil, gas and mining training programme organised for 30 journalists from Ghana, Uganda and Tanzania in Dar-es-Salaam stressed the need for editors and correspondents to be abreast of environmental, social and human rights issues, and the impact of the extractive industries.

They said it was only when journalists showed commitment and learnt about the industry that they would be well positioned to question the operations of industry players.

The organisers, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Penplusbytes, Africa Centre for Media Excellence and Revenue Watch Institute, said the training was designed to introduce journalists to some of the critical issues surrounding the exploitation, management and utilisation of oil, gas and mineral resources.

The Media Programme Officer of Revenue Watch, Mr George Lugalambi, said the emergence of hydrocarbons and other resources along the coasts and inland of African countries made it mandatory for journalists to be well equipped for their jobs.

The training, he said, “will reinforce the knowledge and skills of the journalists to stimulate and feed public debates on how best to ensure that the proceeds from these resources are used in the interest of their respective countries and citizenry”.

Mr Nike Phythian of the Thomson Reuters Foundation took journalists through the fiscal system and how it was expected to capture all revenues that should come to the state in the form of corporate taxes, royalties, interests, bonuses and rents.

He said it was important for resource owners to control the income and expenditure of international oil companies which exploited their natural resources to ensure that they did not overspend and erode most of their profits.

Mr Phythian also said journalists should concern themselves with the value of the resources produced in their countries, and demand clarification from the companies and government sources to ensure transparency and accountability.

He said all resource-rich countries in Africa had the right to use their oil for domestic purposes and added that even though that might not happen immediately, it was important for journalists to understand domestic supply obligations.

“It is important to know about the rent or windfall profit, withholding taxes and other issues to help journalists to write well,” he said.

Other trainers took journalists through various loopholes such as transfer pricing, which, they said, inflated prices at the expense of the resource owners. In Ghana it is estimated that about $36 million is lost every year through transfer pricing.

The participants were also taken though the resource governance value chain, which has various segments dealing with decision to extract, extraction, value enhancement and most importantly, revenue management.

Source: Daily Graphic

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Reporting Oil and Gas project was launched on 4th June 2009atTakoradi, Western Region, Ghana by Penplusbytes (PPB – www.penplusbytes.org) with the vision of providing a one stop online information and knowledge about Ghana’s oil and gas sector
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