The Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) has raised alarm over some financial infractions in the petroleum sector as its 2015 report reveals government overspent its Annual Budget Funding allocation by 34 per cent.
The Committee, which is mandated by law to oversee the management of petroleum revenues, noted that an amount of GHS1.08million was allocated to the Finance Ministry, but the ministry ended up spending GHS1.24million.
PIAC Chairman Professor Paul Buah-Bassuah, made the revelation to Class News’ Ridwan Karim Dini Osman on the sidelines of the launch of the committee’s 2015 report on petroleum revenue management.
“How do we collect the money back? And that is a very important thing that we have to look at seriously in order to retrieve our petroleum revenue. … We are looking at it in this way: that you received a certain amount, then you revised the budget, then you utilised. If the utilisation is not equal to the receipt, accounting principles show that you have overspent it. If the utilisation is more than the receipt, automatically it is over-expenditure. Where did you get the surplus from? That is our query. If you look at the reconciliation given to you by the government itself and looking at the receipts and utilisation, automatically, you have overspent. Looking at the money available, the excess, where did he get it? That is the next question we have to ask,” he stated.
The committee’s report also revealed that the two-year-old maritime boundary dispute between Ghana and Ivory Coast is adversely affecting petroleum revenue generation.
He said: “At the judgment given, it was said that what was touched, because of security, we can go on, but: ‘Do not drill new wells until 2017 when judgment is given’. Assuming the wells we have already are below capacity, then we cannot meet what we have projected for and that is our fear. However, if these were not to be there, we could easily go on with other wells and see how we can develop it. But now, until 2017, we can’t touch it, according to the court orders, so, almost invariably, it is affecting us. I could see that the president’s visit to Cote d’Ivoire was not for fun in the sense that maybe a dialogue can solve the problem before 2017, I think”.
The committee chairman, however, added that revenues accruing to the sector were spread thinly over a wide range of projects, diluting its impact, instead of being utilised on only a select few. He said government must clearly define its capacity-building priority area in the oil sector, for which funds are allocated from oil revenues.
“Not that you have money and anything that comes up you can use the oil money for. That is why I am saying the projects should be first sustainable. Secondly, we need it urgently and we don’t have any resources, and the oil money is the only means to be able to do such interventions, because I don’t see the reason why we can use the oil money for capitation grant, to pay school feeding or some allowances. I don’t think that is what the oil money should be used for,” he added.