Taking turns to announce their policy positions on the sector at a forum in Accra, representatives of the political parties explained that oil was an exhaustible resource, hence the need for prudent management through transparency and accountability to make it beneficial to the future generation.
The forum was organised by the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), to give the political parties an opportunity to communicate their new policy positions on the management of oil and gas to key stakeholders and the wider public.
The representative of the NDC, Dr William Ahadzie, said the government was already committed to being transparent in the sector. Going forward, he said the party would use different approaches to create a greater platform to ensure quick access to information on the extractive sector.
“The NDC supports and encourages transparency and accountability within the operations of the State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs). To this end, the Ghana National Petroleum Company (GNPC) will continue to be solely responsible for upstream activities, whereas the Ghana Gas Company shall continue to be responsible for mid-stream activities of gas processing for supply and distribution to other sectors of the economy,” he said.
He added that the allocation of oil blocks would allow for competitive bidding to enhance transparency and allocation efficiency. Petroleum agreements authorised by parliament would be published on the websites of the Ministry of Petroleum and the SOEs concerned, he added.
Transparency through legislation
The NPP, which was represented by Mr Kweku Kwarteng, said currently, the transparency in the oil sector was insufficient, therefore, the party was going to promote transparency through legislation.
“Currently, the transparency level is not sufficient. To lay your hand on a contract that the state has signed with a private company is such a hustle. We need legislation to correct this. We take the view that contract disclosure must be legislated well so that we can have access to what covenants our government has signed with other people,” he said.
On the issue of beneficial ownership in awarding oil contracts, he said, “we need to have a legislation to push that any entity that wants to deliver service in our oil and gas sector is disclosed fully to the minutest detail so that we don’t suffer corruption and related vices”.
Mr Kwarteng also said in the bid to improve transparency, the authority of ministers to award some contracts at their discretion needed to be looked at again.
“The NPP takes the view that this blank cheque is inappropriate and this is an area we will like to address,” he said.
Other parties’ position
The Chairman of the PNC, Mr Bernard Mornah, said once the party comes into power it would ensure that “all high office holders and politically exposed persons would fully declare and publish their assets; in particular, this would apply to all the directors, ministers and members of the mines and energy committee.”
He also explained that information and public documents, including those related to contracting processes from the oil and gas sector, should be made accessible, while others, like bidding documents and geologic data, would require a minimal fee to access.
“Oil and gas contracts shall be subjected to the Public Procurement Act (PPA). Currently, the final decision on the award of oil block contracts is left to the minister of petroleum. To ensure transparency, the PNC will change this arrangement,” he said.
He added that, “all funds to and from SOEs must go through the Consolidated Fund to ensure scrutiny by parliament. To ensure effective transparency and oversight, directors and officers of SOEs will be made individually liable for criminal prosecution in the event of suspected malfeasance.”
A leading member of the CPP, Mr Kwame Jantuah, said the CPP would be committed to the transparent and accountable management of revenue generated from the extractive sector.
The party, he said, would develop the institutional capacity of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to ensure the efficient audit and declaration of revenue from the extractive sector.
“We will also enact laws on disclosure rules and beneficial ownership of private entities operating in the extractive sector, and provide legislation to ensure availability of contract details and data across the decision chain to the public,” he said.
Mr Jantuah added that his party would ensure the passage of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) Bill as well as strengthening the institutional capacity of the Public Interest Accountability Committee (PIAC) to facilitate greater transparency and accountability in the management of the extractive sector revenue.
Between November 2014 and May 2015, there were various consultative meetings/ discussions that involved senior leadership of four political parties; parliamentarians (mainly members of the parliamentary mines and energy and public accounts committees); and local and international experts in the oil and gas sector.
The main objective of the discussion was to look at how political parties could contribute more effectively and meaningfully to the national debate and policy agenda on the governance of the oil and gas sector in Ghana. — GB