According to Edward Abambire Bawa, Head of Communications Unit of the Ministry, Ghanaians have directly benefited from about 5,600 jobs out of the figure. This, he said, is outside jobs provided by statutory state institutions such as the Ghana National Petroleum Commission (GNPC).
Mr. Bawa was contributing to discussions on the Super Morning Show on Joy FM, Tuesday, regarding how revenue accrued from the oil and gas has been disbursed after almost five years exploration.
There are concerns funds accruing to the nation from the oil discovery are not being properly utilised to benefit the Ghanaian, as people cite the recent economic downturn coupled with the falling value of the local currency.
Mr. Edward Bawa said government also facilitated the establishment of 75 local companies to provide services in the oil and gas industry. He said this has contributed to the “gradual increment” in the flow of investments into companies run by local people in the sector.
“So, that’s one aspect of some of the benefits that we get [from the sector] that may not necessarily be reflected on the various revenues that we get in terms of the petroleum revenues,” he stated.
He called for restraints from the public in demanding how the funds are being utilised, stressing, “we are at the infant stage of this [oil find], till we begin to start putting things well.
“…These are some of the things we can do based on the experience we are gathering over last period of four or five years that we have found oil in our country”.
Transparency is key
Kwame Gyantua, past vice Chairman for Civil Society Platform for Oil and Gas, called for transparency in the management of the fund as well as the need to educate the people to enable them become conversant with the operations of the sector.
“If the law says publish how the monies [revenue] are being spent, publish it so that you don’t get innuendos …it puts the government in bad light.
“The other thing we should try and do is that the terms and the terminologies and the kinds of words we use in this industry should be defined for the ordinary man to also understand”.
Developing the economy
Mohammed Amin Adam of the Africa Centre for Energy Policy, expressed worry about how a chunk of revenue from the sector is being used to develop oil and gas infrastructure at the expense of other sectors of the economy.
“So far, the way we have disbursed the oil money does not show that we are diversifying our economy. Countries that have succeeded in translating their oil and gas resources to tangible development outcomes, are countries that have used their resources to diversify their economy.
“About 340 million dollars out of the 770 million dollars we got [for 2014] went to the oil and gas infrastructure. What is happening is that the agriculture sector suffers, the manufacturing sector suffers [and] road infrastructure suffers,” he noted.
“If we begin to reason that oil will finish one day but our agric will be with us, our manufacturing will be with us, education will be with us [then] we have to begin to use this money to build these sectors so that when the oil is finished we still have an economy,” Mr Adam stressed.