Saturday, 7 December 2019

Gov’t holding information on petroleum revenue in secrecy from citizens - experts

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Adnan Adams Mohammed

Government is being accused of under-reporting on petroleum revenues, especially from the Sankofa Gye Nyame (SGN), which is an abuse of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA).

According to information gathered, Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) is paying 100 percent of its Carried and Participating Interest (5% of SGN oilfield) direct from GNPC’s account without passing through the Petroleum Holding Fund (PHF) as required and stipulated in the PRMA and kept in secrecy from the knowledge of the citizens as none of the current finance minister’s reports to Parliament has captured this payment arrangement between GNPC and SGN partners.

This has caused some energy and finance experts under the erstwhile John Mahama administration to ask questions as they show their state of awe. So, why is it that the government is not following the PRMA rules when it comes to the revenue from selling Ghana’s share of the oil to pay down the monies advanced by Eni Ghana and Vitol to GNPC to pay for its share of the development cost of the SGN field? The former GNPC CEO has asked in an expression of surprise of how the government is handling the situation in SGN case as compared to the case of Jubilee and TEN oilfields.    

“….it seems from the various reports Ministry of Finance has released, GoG is actually under-reporting the amount of oil sold and as such under-reporting the amount of our oil contribution to our GDP?”, Alex Mould, former Chief Executive of GNPC has quizzed.

“If any company in Ghana under-reported its revenue, GoG would have clamped down in it; let’s do the right things, please!”, he retorted when he commented on the current unveiling development.

He further asked, “also, why are we giving them 100% of the revenue derived from the sale of all Ghana’s oil (excluding Oil related to Royalties) and not only 100% of the Participating Interest “Equity”?

“Why are we not asking them to make the oil revenue payments into Bank of Ghana account as we do for the oil revenue from sale of Ghana’s oil from both the Jubilee and TEN fields?

“Does the law not require payment of all petroleum (oil and natural gas) sales into the PHF before any disbursement is made and such disbursement should follow the PRMA Waterfall?”

Consequently, the former Finance Minister has berated at the government saying it failed to properly account for oil revenue generated since it came to power.

Seth Terkper, speaking on the 2020 Budget Statement and Economic Policy that was presented to Parliament, last month, expressed worry that, the Finance Minister only presented figures on oil revenue to the public but did not tell Ghanaians what the monies were used for.

The finance minister is required by the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA) to account to the citizens how the revenues accruing from the oil and gas resources are being utilized and how much have been accrued.

“As we speak oil revenue is bringing in US$4 billion. I think we should be confidently talking about what the oil revenue was used to do,” Mr Terkper said in an interview.

The Former Finance Minister stated that oil revenue generated now has not been properly used, stating that the government has failed to ensure proper investment with the money.

He also compared the erstwhile John Mahama-led government to the current government and stated that although the Mahama's government had one terminal during his tenure, oil revenue generated was used for developmental projects in the country.

According to him, roads were constructed and jobs were created with the revenue.

“When we built Terminal 3, look at the number of people that were employed,” he added.

The former Finance Minister stated that, the government should invest in infrastructural projects such as constructing roads to aid in the development of the country.

He further explained that if funds generated from oil are properly invested, more jobs will be created in the country.

The Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta presented the 2020 budget to parliament last month.

The budget which was named “nkosoor and nkabom” which announced new tax reforms with special emphasis on income and property tax.

It also revealed that Ghana generates about 4 million dollars from oil revenue.

Mr Terkper, however, said the budget did not reflect the name it was given as he explained that it lacked accountability.

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