Most Ghanaians greeted the news of the discovery of oil and gas in commercial quantities off the west coast of Ghana, in 2007 with a mix of hope and anxiety. For some, there were good reasons to be hopeful – the onset of oil and gas will unleash massive financial resources needed to address the huge infrastructure gap that thwart the country’s efforts at improving the quality of life of Ghanaians, while for others, the corrosive effects of oil wealth on the democratic development of neighbouring oil-rich African states is enough reason to be worried.
Guided by its commitment not to repeat the mistakes of some of its oil-rich neighbours for whom the discovery of oil and gas has been more of a curse than a blessing; and mindful of the country’s mismanagement of its mineral revenues over the years, Ghana, with the help of its development partners, quickly convened a national dialogue on how revenues generated from the oil and gas sector would be better managed. This led to the formulation of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA) 2011 (Act 815) which seeks to guide the spending of the petroleum revenues. The bill was first passed in March 2011 but due to challenges with implementation, it underwent some legislative changes and was subsequently amended in June 2015 to provide a better framework for the management of petroleum revenues.
The Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) was established under Section 51 of the PRMA, to among others, monitor and evaluate compliance with the Act. The Committee was inaugurated to commence work on 15th September, 2011. The committee actually started meeting in October 2011 with a membership of 12 representing various member institutions with the exception of the representative from the think tanks. The first annual report of the committee, the 2011 Report on Petroleum Revenue Management was published the following year, in 2012. So far ten (10) reports (five annual and five semi-annual reports) have been published by the committee. Ten (10) public fora have also been held in all regional capitals of the Country in fulfilment of the mandate of the committee.