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MP calls for vigilance to protect public revenues

The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC)  of Parliament ,Mr Albert Kan Dapaah, has called for more vigilance on the part of civil society organizations  and the media to safeguard revenue from the country’s natural resources.

He said accountability mechanisms in public sector financial management systems were flouted and disregarded, thereby creating substantial opportunities  for political and  public servants  to steal state resources.

Speaking at the official opening of the 2012 Summer School on Governance on Oil ,Gas  and Mining revenues in Accra yesterday ,Mr Kan Daapah ,who is also  the Member of Parliament (MP) for Afigya Sekyere West ,noted that unless  the country put an end to  the disregard  for key accountability  mechanisms ,’’we will continue to  swim in poverty, in spite of significant revenue  from our natural resources “.

Organised by the Regional Executive  Industries Knowledge Hub(REIK HUB) GIMPA ,in collaboration with Revenue Watch Institute (RWI) and  the German International  Co-operation(GIZ),the summer school is run as a two –week residential course which comprehensively  covers fundamental and intermediate governance  issues embedded in the extractive industry value chain.

Mr Kan Dapaah said the governance of the extractive industry was very important but also challenging  because the industries, especially oil ,gas  and minerals  were associated  with large investments ,secrecy and contest over resource rent.

He said the bad governance had serious implications, as resource rich countries did not benefit  much form their resources  because they got  insignificant  share of the rent ,invested  poorly  and were often   affected  by official abuse.

According to him, in most resource –rich countries, citizens were demanding of their government to collect large shares  of resource  rent to finance development.

He said the government initiated new fiscal reforms  for the mining sector in the 2012 budget ,including  an increase in corporate  taxes from 25 per cent to 35 per cent ,the introduction of 10 per cent windfall tax and ring –fencing of costs.

He indicated that fiscal and contractual  reforms were necessary but inadequate  in addressing the development challenges of resource rich countries ,adding  that what was important  was that governments must continue to negotiate  those terms in openness and in  the spirit of partnerships to ensure  that there was balance in the interest of all parties.

The MP expressed concern over the fact that while resources of countries  had attracted  international attention,the expectations  of the citizens  were hardly met dur to the lack of transparency  on the size of the wealth ,how much revenue  was generated  from resource  exploitation and how revenues  were being utilized.

He said most importantly ,the promise of jobs in resource –rich countries had become elusive ,thereby inciting populations to rise against their governments and sometimes among themselves  as oil and mineral growth had not translated  into tangible jobs and income.

Mr Kan Dapaah said, for example, that on account of the oil sector, Ghana became the third largest recipient of foreign direct investment in the 2011, rising from seventh in 2010,according to the 2012 World Investment Report issued by the United Nations  Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

According to the report, Ghana received $3.2 billion ,while Nigeria  and South Africa obtained $8.92 billion and $5.8 billion, respectively.

He said in 2011,Ghana achieved a 14 per cent growth in the economy, one of the highest in the world, but the promised jobs were not forth coming.

In 2010,he said ,the Ministry of Energy promised that 10,000 jobs  would be created  in the oil and gas industry ,while the Ghana Oil  and Gas Service Providers Association  said 100,000 jobs could be created.

He said,however,that ,six years on since the discovery of oil, the Ministry of Energy  had reported  only 1,500 jobs created  in the industry ,with 840 Ghanaians  and 660expatriates.

In a speech read on his  behalf ,the Minister of Energy ,Dr Joe Oteng –Agyei, said Ghana had signed on to the EITI  for the purpose of strengthening transparency and accountability in relation to revenue payment s from operators  within the extractive sector.

He said the initiative ,which was hitherto  in the mining sector and that  to consolidate the gains  so far made in natural resource  governance ,a draft  EITI Bill was  ready  for submission  to Parliament .

Dr Oteng –Agyei indicated that the purpose of the bill was to provide  the legal framework and ultimately enhance transparency and accountability  in relation to payments originating  from the natural resources  sector  of the economy and receipts by government.

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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