The Chairman of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), Dr Steve Manteaw has said the committee will effectively police the use of oil revenue to ensure responsible spending and transparency for the benefit of the people.
According to him, it was unfortunate that some see PIAC’s pronouncements, relative to oil and gas revenue management as over-stepping its bounds.
“Such people are clearly oblivious of key aspect of our mandate which is to undertake independent assessment of government’s performance in the management and use of petroleum revenues,” he added.
Dr Manteaw said this at the official opening of PIAC’s new office at East Legon in Accra.
The new office purchased out of its property fund would serve as its permanent head office.
He said since hydrocarbon resources were finite and non-renewable, it was important that citizens were assured that the dividends from their exploitation would be utilised responsibly, transparently and to the benefit of all.
“It is in the national interest that we, as citizens, work with the governments we elect to ensure responsible management of the revenues and the spending choices that are made for and on behalf of the people,” he said.
Dr Manteaw said on their various outreach activities, citizens have demanded of them to either expand the mandate of PIAC to cover mining or create a similar nomenclature to take care of the sector.
“Again, citizens have expressed concern about the seeming lack of action on cases cited in PIAC’s report, especially those that border on fraud, other forms of criminality and administrative justice”, he said.
He noted that people had even called for PIAC to be granted prosecutorial powers, adding that in response to that PIAC has entered into a pact with EOCO for the purpose of investigating some of these cases, and possibly prosecuting offenders where enough evidence of wrongdoing was established.
“We note however, that EOCO may not be adequately resourced to fully fulfil its side of the bargain and so we therefore take this opportunity to plead for more resources for them as they commit to partner PIAC to safeguard our oil reserves,” he said.
Dr Manteaw commended government for ensuring that PIAC was weaned off charities to run its affairs, adding that “disbursement of our budget has become more regular and predictable and it has enabled us to better plan our activities.”
On her part, the Deputy Minister of Finance, Madam Abena Osei Asare said the fund for the office building was made available in the 2018 budget after PIAC had made appeal to the government for the acquisition of a permanent office.
She called for the prudent management of the office and fund which would be allocated for PIAC official activities adding that their revenue from the oil sector has supported government to undertake many social and economic interventions to accelerate economic development.
Madame Asare reiterated that government was committed to transparency and accountability in the oil sector; thus, open competitive building in the new oil blocs.