Majority of the ordinary citizens seem, to be in the dark as to where the revenues accrued from the oil production is; how the money is being spent; and what change it has brought for the country, almost three years after Ghana joined the league of oil producing countries in Africa.
It is not only unlettered Ghanaians who want to know where the oil money is, as Public Agenda discovered during a vox pop that even many educated citizens are unaware about the amount that accrues to the country from the oil production and how the funds are expended. This is despite the inclusion of the petroleum revenues and their expenditure in the national budgets and in the 2011 annual and 2012 semi¬annual reports of the Public Accountability and Interest Committee (PIAC).
Also, though the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, 2011 (Act 815) clearly outlines the allocation and expenditure of the petroleum revenues, Public Agenda can authoritatively report that many Ghanaians do not know how the government is utilising the petro-dollars. “In the first half of 2012 a total quantity of 2,989,367 barrels was exported by the Ghana Group with a net value of US$326,620,009.43….The total amount of US$327, 1 72,427.1 5 reported by the Government as petroleum receipts in the first half of the year reflects the true state of affairs. This includes revenues from Jubilee operations, Saltpond operations and surface rentals,” says the PIAC semi-annual report.
Soliciting the views of the public on what they know about the country’s oil revenue, a resident of Koforidua in the Eastern Region, Mr Jonathan Opata, told this paper that as at the moment the only information he has about the oil was that there had been some liftings but he did not know the number of barrels lifted so far; and could not tell the actual amount of revenue accrued. According to Mr Opata, he expected the money from the oil to be used in developing the country through infrastructure and good healthcare.
A caterer at Kokomlemle in the Greater Accra Region, Ms Lawrencia Doe, told this paper, “I do not really know unless you tell me.” An office machines repairer and resident of Ofankor in Accra, Mr Richard Benyi Addison, noted: “The last time I heard about the oil was some time ago when it was reported that the flow meter on the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah was dysfunctional.” Besides, he said he knew nothing about the oil revenue. He said it was important for the government to educate the public on how it was utilising the oil cash in order to prevent confusion as to its use.
Besides, a busi¬nessman resident in Adenta a suburb of Accra, Mr Robert Darnley, stated that he had no idea of the whereabouts of the oil revenue. According to him, he was aware that a certain percentage of the oil revenues remained in the country but did not know the kind of the projects the money had been invested in. He said Ghana was rich with resources but poverty was so pervasive as if there was no resource to rely on. He submitted that there was the need for government to ensure that the oil resources benefited all.
A petty trader from the Eastern Region, Mrs Janet Asaah, told Public Agenda: “I don’t know what the politicians are using the money for. What I know is that they said they were going to use the oil money to build schools, hospitals, roads and other things but as at now, we don’t know where the money is.” She added: “I think the government should come out and explain to us what the oil money is being used for.” She suggested that the oil money should be used to cater for the aged and for other social interventions.
Other people interviewed, including Mr Joshua Afunya, a resident of Amasaman, also said they were ignorant about the issues surrounding the oil revenue. Mr Afunya stated: “I have no idea where the oil money is. According to him, he only got pieces of information from the media that the oil revenue is in the custody of the government and it was investing it in building schools and other projects but did not specifically know where the infrastructure is. He said there were many homes without toilets in the major cities and expects the money to be used to build public toilets. He also wanted the money to be used to strengthen public secu¬rity.
Source: Public Agenda
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