- It is in the light of this that one finds the latest report by the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) very interesting albeit worrying. According to the report ...
Written by Justice Mingle - Oil revenue is very strategic and crucial to a fledging economy like Ghana. In some jurisdictions oil find has been a curse more than a blessing.
It is in the light of this that one finds the latest report by the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) very interesting albeit worrying. According to the report about half of the projects supposed to have been funded and executed with petroleum revenue do not exist. PIAC a multi-stakeholder body which monitors and tracks the use of the country's oil and gas revenue also found out that there was lack of involvement of communities and beneficiary institutions in the project selection and implementation making tracking and demand for accountability difficult. Since Ghana started drilling oil in commercial quantities PIAC has done a yeoman's job in monitoring the use of revenue accruing from it. It was as a result of its recommendation that the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) was stopped from using oil money in funding the activities of the Senior National team, the Black Stars.
It was also through its probing eyes that the three point six million cedis bus branding scandal was unearthed. There are more, but suffice it to say the existence of PIAC has made many government officials circumspect in the utilization of the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) which is a component of oil revenue used in funding development projects.Proceeds from Ghana's petroleum lifting and other incomes from inception in August 2011 to the end of December 2017 amounted to nearly four billion dollars out of which 41 percent was allocated to ABFA, 31 percent to GNPC and the remainder to the heritage and stabilization funds. According to the Ghana Statistical Service Ghana's economic growth inched up to eight point five percent in 2017 due largely to drilling in the TEN fields and Sankofa. This means oil for sometime to come will be the lifeline of the Ghanaian economy. Even though PIAC registered some discrepancies in the use of oil revenue its overall impression was that management of the revenue had been quite transparent which is heartwarming. The Committee was however not able to make a smooth transition from transparency to accountability. One deep concern of PIAC was the paltry sums allocated to some key projects leading to delays and shoddy work beside making impact evaluation difficult.
Now that PIAC has forwarded its report to the Auditor General and Attorney General's Department for further investigations it is hoped action will be expedited to bring to book all players who were in one way or the other reprimanded for acts of malfeasance. As a statutory body, PIAC needs all the Cooperation and support to facilitate its work in the interest of the nation. Ghana needs to learn from the experiences of other oil resource countries and manage returns from its oil fields prudently since petroleum is a finite resource.
Monitoring, evaluation and stakeholder consultations should be taken serious if PIAC is to succeed as an oversight institution Its funding must be backed by facts and empirical evidence else public confidence in its operations will wane. All said and done, it’s been so far so good. We must desist from imposing projects on communities since that largely accounts for their abandonment and lack of adequate policing. The District Assemblies as stakeholders must be totally involved in the choice of projects. As beneficiaries they cannot be sidelined in anyway since they wear the shoes and know where it hurts most.
NEWS COMMENTARY ON 2017 PUBLIC INTEREST AND ACCOUNTABILITY COMMITTEE REPORT
BY JUSTICE MINGLE, A JOURNALIST.