As a statutory institution committed to ensuring efficient, transparent and accountable management of petroleum revenues and investments, the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) lacks the legal wherewithal to prosecute people who misappropriate Ghana’s oil revenue allocations.
This came to light at a three-day workshop on interrogating the 2016 Annual PIAC report spearheaded by the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists (IFEJ) and sponsored by the GIZ.
It is against this backdrop that the participants there supported calls for PIAC to have prosecutorial powers.
This in their estimation could empower PIAC to fully fulfill its mandate of ensuring the efficient management of the nation’s petroleum revenues for sustainable development.
PIAC’s Vice Chairman, Kwame Jantuah reiterated the committee’s mandate to exhibiting high integrity and remaining independent of governmental dictatorship on the oil revenue management.
According to him, PIAC is directly funded by the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) which feeds into the national budget.
He quoted Ghc38.08 amount of the ABFA which was spent on capacity building as part of PIAC’s 2016 activities.
He grieved over the minimal impact of monies allocated for agriculture modernization as part of the four priority areas of the oil revenue funded projects.
He admonished successive governments to invest the nation’s oil revenue in profitable areas that will generate high returns in terms of added value.
Kwame Jantuah disclosed that the stabilization and heritage funds could be merged to establish the sovereign wealth fund when there is depletion of the nation’s oil resources.
He reaffirmed PIAC’s determination to partner with the media to keep track of oil revenue disbursement as means of promoting social auditing and accountability.
VRA’S indebtedness to Ghana Gas
Dr. Steve Manteau in a presentation revealed that the Volta River Authority owed the Ghana National Gas Company (GNGC) $340.49 million as at June 2016.
He attributed the colossal debt to large scale power theft and government agencies failure to promptly pay electricity tariffs.
He explained the merits and demerits of listing the VRA and the Electricity Company (ECG) on the Ghana Stock Exchange.
He cited the legacy debt, energy recovery levy and the petroleum holding account at the Bank of Ghana as some of the financial compartments of the nation’s oil revenue mobilization.
GNPC’s allocations and expenditure
PIAC vice Chairman, Kwame Jantuah again dealt with that topic and recommended that Parliament must ensure a practice whereby GNPC will be requested to release parts of its allocations from petroleum receipts to government or its agencies without prior approval from Parliament.
He added that government must deists from directing GNPC to provide guarantees to other state-owned entities such as the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) and the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation (BOST).
He further advocated that government should ensure the recovery of payments already made as a result of the inability of state institutions to pay the transactions which GNPC guaranteed.
Dissolving statutory Boards
Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences representative on PIAC, Professor Albert Fiadjoe bemoaned political equalization in the area of dissolving statutory Boards after transfer of political power.
He observed that the phenomenon continually affected the nation’s transformational agenda.
Professor Albert Fiadjoe thereby tasked successive governments to decouple public service appointments from political appointments.
Critique of PIAC’s 2016 Semi-Annual Report
Head of Finance Department of the University of Cape Coast, Dr. John Gatsi highlighted some missing critical considerations expected to complete PIAC’s 2016 Semi Annual report.
He stated that PIAC’s previous reports served as reference documents in the universities where petroleum management courses are pursued.
He called for enough hard copies of PIAC’s annual reports to stockpile university libraries.
Commenting on the transfers and performance of the Ghana Petroleum Funds, Dr. John Gatsi posited that the Semi-Annual report was in line with the Petroleum Management Act (815) but failed to indicate some important issues to the public.