The Ranking Member on the Mines and Energy Committee of Parliament , Mr. Adam Mutawakilu has recommended a shift from the current use of oil revenues on several projects, which makes it difficult to assess their impact.
Instead, he suggested that enough funds should be allocated to an identifiable project within a particular year to ensure its successful completion before moving on to another.
Currently, oil revenue is treated as part of a pool funds for many infrastructure projects and in some cases, allocation made are so insignificant that it is very difficult to assess the efficiency of the usage of the revenues.
In interview with participation of an going training, sponsored by Ghana Oil and Gas for Inclusive Growth (GOGIC) aimed at enhancing the role of the media at enhancing the role of the media in promoting transparency and accountability, Mr. Mutawakilu said it was regrettable that the country could hardly point to significant projects that have been funded fully with oil revenues over the years because revenues over the years because revenues have been spread thinly across many projects.
‘Over the years, the revenue has been spread thinly.
Allocating about GHC500,000 for a road project that was already ongoing would not lead to its completion.’’
We are suggesting that we reduce the projects that the oil money is being used for so that at the end of the year, we can count two or three projects that revenue has been used for, he said.
Priority area, not a problem
Under the petroleum Revenue Management Act(815)2011, the Minister of Finance is expected to select for priority areas for which oil revenues would be allocated in the absence of a long term development plan.
From 2011 to 2016, the priority areas chosen were agriculture, modernization, roads and other infrastructure, amortization of loans and capacity building.
The areas have been reviewed from 2017 to focus on agriculture, physical infrastructure and service delivery in health and road, rail and other critical infrastructure development.
Although industry players have raised concerns about the priority areas and it been used as an omnibus spending area, the projects that received funding that remained a challenged.
He said even if a single priority area was selected, and it has several projects earmarked to received funding, the revenues would still be spread thinly.
‘Even if it is one sector, the ministry can have several projects and that would continue to be a challenge. But out of that, they should pick one and apply the money to it.’
‘If you pick agriculture for instance, they should have one project that the allocation for the year should be used on.
The road ministry should have one they can apply the money on and execute the project, ’he said
He said at the end of the day, the country should be able to point at projects, just like the gas infrastructure at Atuabo in the Western Region that oil money has been used for.
We would like to see many of that but currently, it is spread thinly and we think that is a big problem,’’ he said.
Energy think tank, the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP)is urging the government to use oil revenue efficiently to ensure maximum benefits for the country.
The advice comes on the back of anticipated boost in the production of oil from Sankofa Gye Nyame and the Ten fields expected to fetch the country more revenue.
The Executive Director of the ACEP, Mr. Benjamin Boakye, however cautioned that with the current trend of proof governance around the management of revenues from the jubilee Field, care must be taken to ensure that the trend was not repeated going forward. We have to ensure that governance around the management of our revenues is substantial to maximize economic benefits,’’ he said while addressing participants the training.
Many industry experts have raised concerns over the poor governance of oil revenues over the last six years, expressing fears over the country will not been able to show anything for oil production after the resource runs out.
Already the four priority areas selected for oils revenue spending was used as an omnibus spending avenue for projects which were not prioritized and successive governments have failed to give any explanation for this
Mr. Boakye, therefore, urged the media to play an active role in the governance of oil revenues in the country to help fight corruption and misuse of revenues.
‘it is not always pleasant to tell the bad stories. The media must be part of governance of oil in Ghana. They must monitor and not allow politicians to have a field day’’ he said. -GB