Public Interest Accountability Committee
Sanction PRMA defaulters - Chiefs
News Date : 22nd September 2017

A REPORT from the Public Interest of Accountability Committee (PIAC) indicates that oil and gas revenue from 2011 to 2016 was expended on things outside the Petroleum Revenues Management Act (PRAM), which mandates the Minister of Finance to select four priority areas for investment.

Mr Kwame Jantuah, Vice Chairman of PIAC, speaking to participants at public forums at Shai Osudoku in the  Dodowa District and Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) in the Accra Metropolis, both in the Greater Accra Region, explained that those who misappropriated the monies on things outside the priority areas, may face a penalty as backed by PRAM Act 2011 (Act 815)  section 58, which states that a person who misappropriates the petroleum funds, defrauds, attempts to defraud or conspires with another to defraud the public in relation to petroleum funds commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than 500, 000 penalty units or a term of imprisonment of not less than 15 years or both.

The public forums on the management of Ghana’s petroleum revenue from 2011 to 2016 was part of one-week project visits and public meetings with members of Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists.

Mr Jantuah, however, said no government had ever sanctioned its ministers for misapplying monies outside the priority areas.

    “For six years, the minister for finance is supposed to prepare a report to parliament but it has not be done. We need to go according to the laws we have and the penalties in the law need to be executed,” he said.

“Whether a government or party in power will be prepared to take its own people to court is another thing. They do not have the mandate to do that; perhaps it is up to the Public Account Committee to do that.”

Mr Jantuah explained that for 2011-2016, the minister was to choose four priority areas from these sectors: Agric and industry; science and technology; potable water; infrastructure development; social welfare; rural development; strengthening of institutions; housing industry; health care; environmental protection; public security and alternative energy

Priority areas and spending

The PIAC vice chairman said the minister, after choosing the four,  that is  agriculture modernization, road and other infrastructure amortization and capacity building, he went outside the four to overspend on other 13 areas.

For instance, under transport infrastructure, GH¢3,649,044.75 was spent on bus branding project, while ¢35, 000, 000 was used as Microfinance and Small Loans Centre loans under its capacity building programme.

“I do not know why we should use oil money for bus branding. I don’t see the effect. What is the benefit of that bus branding and as I indicated, shouldn’t we have used those buses for advertising? Could we not have made money on the advertising and even use that money to invest back in the maintenance of the buses?” he asked.

Also in the agriculture sector, GH¢55, 098, 852 was spent on other national projects and or projects per the Ministry of Finance report.

Recapitalisation for EXIM Guarantee Company Ghana Limited attracted GH¢2, 000,000.00, while GH¢1,647,366 for was used for Capitation grant and GH¢83,037,284 for GETFund scholarship under capacity building.

Long-term plan

He urged Ghanaians to ensure that any government who come into power uses Ghana’s long-term development plan in setting priorities for investment of the petroleum revenues.

He added that the 40-year development plan being developed by the National Development Planning Commission, which is almost ready, is expected to be presented to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo by this weekend.

He said “it is a good thing the plan is there and if the government decides to use it, it will be a good thing because what is in the plan today is what we feel will help us develop the country. Parliament has the power to relook at the plan every time.”

He added that “even in their manifesto they can draw some of the things in the plan so that we have a continuous development going. For example, if the free senior high school is in the plan, every government will implement it.”

Opinion leaders

Nene Tei Kwesi Agyemang Okukrobour V, Numersi of Dodowa, who chaired the forum, commended PIAC for the move they have made by educating Ghanaians on how the petroleum revenues were being used.

He added that PIAC should organise such insightful forums across the length and breadth of the country to enlighten Ghanaians in order to keep government officials accountable for the use of the revenues.

He encouraged his colleague chiefs to work with PIAC to organise such impactful forums in their localities to enlighten their people.

Nii Yartey Obedru I, Chief of Korle Gorno, James Town, who chaired the forum at AMA, suggested that there should be monitory and evaluation team in place to ensure the necessary sanctions are implemented by the authorities by way of  sanctioning defaulters.

He said “there are laws for guidance as to what they should do and not to do but we realise that in some of the areas, they went out of the way to use the money for things that are not necessary instead of the priority areas.

“One thing is that we should not allow them. We were told that the last stages of the previous government, they went all their way to cover 13 areas instead of the four and caused misappropriation of the fund .”

He expressed the hope that PIAC would do more and also suggested that there should be monitory and evaluation on their part so that whoever they interacted with would send feedback.

“Also such report should come to the traditional council. When you bring the report to us, please ask feedback from us to know what we have learnt from you. It is unfortunate that PIAC is not given the mandate to sanction people who misuse the monies but you should be able to ask parliament and other bodies that have the power to sanction what action has been taken and do a follow-up,” he said..

Source : dailyheritage.com.gh