The unutilised Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) of the oil revenue of the country has now increased to GH¢655.12 million as at the end of 2018.
In 2017, the unused amount was GH¢403.74 million, but there has been an addition of GH¢251.38 million in 2018, and the Ministry of Finance is unable to account for the entire amount.
Chairman of the Public Interest Accountability Committee (PIAC), Dr Steve Manteaw said this at the editors’ forum organised by PIAC at Senchi, in the Eastern Region, on Saturday.
The engagement that aimed at leveraging the capacities of senior editors as key constituent members of the committee was also to discuss PIAC’s latest report and other issues on the oil industry.
Dr Manteaw indicated that the Ministry of Finance was approached on the unused GH¢403.74 million, and the response was that a parliamentary approval was needed for the use of the amount.
He said that Parliament stated there had been an approval, but the ministry insisted there was the need for approval.
Dr Manteaw said he expressed hope that the ministry would bring “forward the amount in the 2019 budget”, to seek parliamentary approval, but that was not the case, not even in the mid-year budget review.
He stated that the ministry was contacted on the issue, and the Chief Director of the ministry said that the unused amount would be accounted for before the end of 2019, “but while we are waiting, there has been an addition of the GH¢251.38 million, and we do not know where the entire money is”.
Dr Manteaw said ” PIAC will not bring this matter to a close until we know where the money has gone to. They thought we will follow it only to a certain point and take our eyes off it, but ours is to follow the money until we get to the bottom of it”.
According to him, in 2017, only 37 per cent of the utilised ABFA was used for capital expenditure, less than the 70 per cent as stipulated in the Petroleum Revenue Management Act.
Emphasising that 63 per cent was used for the supply of goods and services, Dr Manteaw urged the ministry to comply with section 21(4) of Act 815 in respect of public interest expenditure.
Earlier, vice chair of the committee, Dr Thomas Stephens, indicated that in 2014, the ministry withheld an amount of 50 million US Dollars from Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, which was treated as a loan.
But, he noted that the transaction was not backed by any form of agreement, spelling out the terms of the loan and repayment plan.
Dr Stephens stated that after almost 10 years of oil exploration, “there is lack of infrastructural projects or legacy projects that Ghana can boast of from oil revenue”, and called on government to return unutilised funds to the petroleum holding funds.