PIAC CONCERNED ABOUT DELAYED PAYMENTS FOR OIL-FUNDED PROJECTS

The Public Interest and Accountability (PIAC) has expressed concern over persistent delays in releasing funds for oil-funded projects across the country, highlighting its detrimental impact on timely completion of these crucial projects.

PIAC’s concern follows the inspection of projects partly financed by the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) – the amount of oil money that goes to support the national budget, which revealed a recurring issue of postponed payments. Such delays were particularly highlighted by contractors at the various sites visited in Accra.

PIAC, a public watchdog over the use and management of oil revenues, said the co-mingling of petroleum revenues with other funds for projects, which end up getting stalled for a long period, does not reflect prudent use of oil revenues.

To ensure projects are completed within schedule, the Committee is advocating timely and sufficient allocation of petroleum revenues specifically earmarked for projects.

The Committee’s Chair, Emerita Professor Elizabeth Ardayfio-Schandorf, lamented that the sums allocated to some ongoing infrastructure projects are woefully insufficient.

She said the allocated funds, which are channeled to these projects through the ABFA, do not represent significant contributions to these projects’ total funds.

PIAC, she said, will continue to make its case for more prudent use of oil revenue, to ensure enough funds are committed to complete earmarked projects.

Furthermore, she said the Committee remains committed to promoting transparency and accountability in the management of oil revenues, as enshrined in the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA).

INSPECTION

In the Greater Accra Region, PIAC inspected the Rehabilitation of selected roads in Teshie Camp, Southern Command and MATS (Ghana Military Academy); construction of Teshie Link; and construction of a flyover at the Tema Motorway from the Spintex Road Flowerpot Roundabout.

These three projects, located in the Ledzokuku municipality, are at different stages of completion and received funds from the ABFA between 2019 and 2022.

The contract for rehabilitating roads, constructing a car park and parade ground within the Southern Command in Teshie was awarded in July 2020 – and was supposed to have been completed within 24 months. But at the time of PIAC’s visit, the project was only 24 percent physically complete. Of the GH¢145.8million total contract sum, GH¢7.4million of petroleum revenue representing 5.07 percent was disbursed to the project in 2022.

With the construction of the 7.5-kilometre Teshie Link, it was disclosed that the project involved constructing a new road and drainage structures, with earthworks and asphaltic-concrete surfacing.

The project was awarded in October 2019 and had an original contract duration of 18 months. Of the GH¢87.9million original contract sum, GH¢29.7million of petroleum revenue representing 33.84 percent was disbursed to the project from 2019 to 2021.

At the time of PIAC’s visit, 95 percent of all drainage works had been completed, together with the asphaltic binder and wearing course laid on the road.

However, the PIAC team was informed that the contractor suspended work due to non-payment of funds. Outstanding work includes installation of traffic signals and road markings to ensure a controlled intersection. The absence of these has resulted in many car crashes in the area.

Similarly, on the construction of the flyover over the Tema Motorway from the Flowerpot Roundabout, of the revised GH¢284.7million contract sum, a total GH¢141,093,767 representing 49.56 percent was disbursed from the ABFA in 2022.

The project is located at the Flowerpot Roundabout, Spintex, and East Legon; and involves creating access from the Motorway to Boundary Road Roundabout and an exit into Cantonments from the Giffard Road Interchange. It consists of one mainline bridge, two ramp-bridges, four auxiliary roads and ancillary works.

At the time of PIAC’s visit, the infrastructure was estimated to be about 70 percent complete. Similar concerns about delays in releasing funds were reported at all projects sites.

SOURCE: BUSINESS & FINANCIAL TIMES

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