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The Public Interest and Accountability Committee, PIAC, says Ghana is likely to miss expected benefits from oil and gas resources if the current petroleum revenue expenditure regime continues.
The Technical Manager of PIAC, Mark Agyeman made the remark in an interview with Citi News on the sidelines of PIAC’s monitoring tour of four oil revenue-funded projects in the Effia-Kwesimintsim Municipality and the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis.
The monitoring tour by members of PIAC together with some Queen-mothers from the Western Region mobilized by Friends of the Nation, a CSO, was prior to PIAC’s Western and Central regions Forum on 10 years of the management and use of petroleum revenue.
While expressing disappointment with the poorly constructed Durbar Grounds for New Takoradi Community with GHS184,013 petroleum revenues, Mark Agyeman said the continued spreading of insignificant oil money across numerous projects despite PIAC’s previous recommendations against that will not yield good benefits to the country.
“To be honest, what we saw up north in 2016 when we started our monitoring of how we use oil money to undertake projects is not different from what we are seeing today here at New Takoradi. Thus, where oil money is co-mingled with other funding sources, it makes monitoring very difficult because we go to projects sites, and you don’t even know exactly how much oil money went into the project.
“The other thing also is that we spread the oil money sometimes thinly across projects, to the extent that some projects receive funding of GHS10,000 to do tiling and painting. Other projects also receive GHS50,000 to do just grounds work. The issue is that if we continue to spend our oil money this way, we might produce petroleum for a thousand years but its economic impact on the lives of the citizenry will not be realized as envisaged in 2007 when petroleum was discovered in commercial quantities”, he said.
Also reacting to what the PIAC members witnessed from the monitoring of the 80% complete oil-funded New Takoradi Durbar grounds, the Chairman of PIAC’s Public Affairs and Communications sub-Committee, Eric Defor, said such shoddily done oil-funded projects is why not much can be said about petroleum projects.
“What we have seen here is a failed project and that the whole durbar grounds is not worth its purpose. These are some of the challenges we have with the utilization of oil revenues because when we do small micro-projects, you don’t get the impact of the oil resource. We have already spent $6.5 billion from oil resources, and we don’t have any major tangible projects to show for it. A project like this is an embarrassment to the country“, he said.
The Acting Paramount Queen-mother of the Shama Traditional Area, Nana Akosua Gyamfiaba who together with other queens have already prepared their Manifesto for appropriate utilization of oil revenues after touring the project sites with PIAC could not also hold her disappointment.
“A project like this and people around don’t even know how this contract was awarded. They don’t know anything. I mean if there was proper supervision, we wouldn’t be seeing things like this so the District Assemblies, the MMDCEs should be up and doing because they are wasting Ghana’s money, they are wasting our natural resources and the oil money. If this is what we are going to experience every year, then they should close the oil companies,” she said.
The Chairman of PIAC, Professor Kwame Adom-Frimpong on his part said PIAC will continue to recommend key issues until they are considered.
“The heritage project is a recommendation we are making because you need to know that this is a legacy… So we will continue to make the recommendation, and I’m sure the government will take note of it. Our mandate is to come out with any information we will get on the use of the petroleum funds, and then we give our recommendation. Those recommendations we will give, if action is not taken against the recommendation, we will continue to repeat it. So if you look at our results, some have been resolved, and therefore we don’t need to bring it again. Those which are not resolved, we will continue to hammer that area and make sure it’s fulfilled,“ he said.
Among the recommendations presented at the PIAC’s Western and Central regions Forum on 10 years of the management and use of petroleum revenues included the need for government to have alternative funding sources for the free SHS either than just oil revenues as a sustainable measure.
PIAC also recommended one symbolic legacy project for each region.
Participants from Western and Central regions during the open forum called for the inclusion of healthcare issues, students hostels and more support to fisherfolks from petroleum revenue projects.