An outspoken expert on revenue management in the extractive sector has joined the many voices kicking against government’s plan to draw from the Heritage Fund to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Steve Manteaw, currently a co-chair of the Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GHEITI), said although government is faced with a legitimate economic challenge in the wake of the effects of the pandemic on local businesses and projected national revenues, the Heritage Fund should not be the first consideration.

“To be sincere, we have an over bloated bureaucratic budget,” he said Wednesday on current affairs programme, PM Express.

Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, has announced his intention to amend the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA), the law governing a raft of policies in the petroleum sector, including the Ghana Heritage Fund (GHF), to enable him draw from the Fund.

The Ghana Heritage Fund, a creation of the PRMA, provides an endowment to support the development of future generations when the petroleum reserves have been depleted. It is currently estimated to be worth $591.1 million.

Since the intention to withdraw from the Fund was announced in Parliament, the Minority and civil society organisations have kicked against it.

Adding his voice to call for the Finance Minister to shelve the idea, Dr Manteaw said the government can adequately mitigate against the drastic economic impact of the pandemic by cutting down on the number of its appointees.

The former Chairman of the Public Interest Accountability Commission (PIAC) said Ghana was a poor country that cannot afford the current huge number of ministers and their deputies as well as the multiple deputy directorships created in almost all government parastatals.

“It’s huge cost to the nation. For me that will be the first target if I was in charge of affairs,” the policy analyst said.

The current administration has over 110 ministers, at least 20 ministers more than its predecessors appointed, and has been a source of debate since 2017.