The Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) has rejected attempts to use the Heritage Fund but supports the Government on the use of parts of the Stabilisation Fund to solve economic challenges emerging from COVID-19.
The Committee is of the view that accessing the Heritage Fund will not only dim the spirit of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act in 2011, Act 815 but derail the country’s intended purpose of applying international best governance practices to its hydrocarbon resources, adding that the country risks slipping back into the very terrain that necessitated the promulgation of the law.
A statement signed by Mr. Noble Wadzah, the Chairman of PIAC, and copied to the Ghana News Agency, said Government’s search for resources to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is in the right direction.
It said PIAC has observed with interest, government’s intention to lower the cap on the Ghana Stabilisation Fund (GSF) to US 100 million dollars in order to use the excess for contingency purposes.
The statement said the PRMA is not oblivious of national emergencies and has made provision for transfers from the Ghana Stabilisation Fund (GSF) into the Contingency Fund.
However, governments over the years have made limited petroleum revenue transfers to the Contingency Fund thereby depriving it of the needed resources for addressing emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Ghana Stabilisation Fund (GSF) is meant for shoring up the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) in times of budget shortfalls, providing for contingency, and debt servicing, the statement said, however, withdrawals from the GSF over the years has been heavily tilted in favour of debt servicing, as against a balance between the budget, debt servicing, and contingency purposes.
It said proposals put forward by Government would involve an amendment of the PRMA, adding that any amendment of the PRMA would come across as reactionary and a risky option, which when unchecked, could provide a recipe for abuse of the intent of the law at the least opportunity.
The Committee acknowledged the threat posed by COVID-19 pandemic to the Ghanaian society and the world at large and commended various efforts of government and citizens focused on containing the pandemic.
It said even though the Health Sector is a priority area for ABFA expenditure, the pandemic has reinforced its critical nature, with its interconnections to economic development, national security, food security, and the survival of the citizenry.
The Committee urged Government to review allocations to the sector vis-à-vis allocations to other priority areas including roads and rail, education and agriculture.
PIAC is a body whose membership represents a broad spectrum of the Ghanaian society mandated under Act 815, to provide independent assessment on the management and use of Ghana’s petroleum revenues by faithfully adhering to the principles and philosophy that informed the passage of the PRMA.