Friday, 17 November 2017

IFEJ, GIZ and PIAC partner to monitor oil projects

Adnan Adams Mohammed

As part of the commitment by the members of the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalist (IFEJ), GIZ and Public Interest Accountability Committee (PIAC) to make positive impact on the extractive industry in the country, they have launched a project to monitor oil funded projects.
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The monitoring group which is led by selected journalists and the PIAC team visited various oil project sites for first hand information.

Selected projects in six regions were monitored within last year and this year.

At a validation workshop in Koforidua last week, Dr Steve Manteaw, Member of the country’s Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) urged the government to be open and transparent with its decision to track projects funded with petroleum revenues across the country.

According to him, transparency will bring about integrity in the monitoring of oil-funded projects.

He said, Government should just be open and transparent with its findings from the inspection and they should be aware that PIAC and its partners are also tracking and reporting the use of oil revenues.

“The fact that the ministry itself will be undertaking an exercise of this nature gives us an opportunity to juxtapose what the government tells us with what an independent body like PIAC will be putting up, so we have some assurance that there is some integrity in the tracking exercise,” he said. Ghana discovered oil in commercial quantities in July 2007 and commenced production in December 2010.

Section 48 of the country’s Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA), Act 815, 2011 states:

“(1) The minister shall submit an annual report on the Petroleum Funds as part of the annual presentation of the budget statement and economic policies to Parliament.

(2) The annual report shall be prepared in a manner that makes it easy for the dissemination to the public and shall include the following information for the financial year for which the report is prepared:

(a) audited financial statements of the previous year comprising; (i) the receipts and transfers to and from the Petroleum Holding Fund,

(ii) the deposits into and withdrawals from the Ghana Stabilization Fund and the Ghana Heritage Fund, and

(iii) a balance sheet including a note listing the qualifying instruments of the Ghana Petroleum Funds;

(b) a report from the Minister describing the stage of implementation of the programmed activities funded by and the expenditures incurred on the activities covered by the Annual Budget Funding Amount in the financial year of the report.”

The various finance ministers, notwithstanding the legislation, have failed to comply, hence Dr Manteaw, who is also a Co-Chair of the Ghana Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (GHEITI), lauded government for the decision to begin monitoring projects funded with petroleum revenue apart from what PIAC has been undertaking over the years.

“It is rather unfortunate that over a period of six years, the ministers of finance have been unable to comply with the provision to provide an update on oil-funded projects so this exercise, I believe, it will enable the minister to be compliant with the requirements,” he observed.

There have been concerns by some sections of the Ghanaian public that the government wants to usurp the role of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee, the civil society body mandated by law with oversight responsibility of monitoring and evaluating the management of Ghana’s petroleum revenue by the government and its relevant state institutions.

But Dr Manteaw, who is also an analyst with the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC) and member of the National Steering Committee of the Open Governance Partnership Initiative disagrees and urged PIAC to be focused on its core mandate.

“PIAC doesn’t have to be worried at all. PIAC should just keep focus and innovate in terms of getting citizens involved in how we track oil revenues,” he said.