Parliament has urged Ghanaians of all persuasions to offer constructive recommendations that will make the Petroleum Revenue Management Bill beneficial to the state.

The bill, currently before the House, will be one of the major issues to be dealt with when members resume from recess next Tuesday.

The House is, therefore, inviting the general public to support Parliament by offering suggestions and recommendations to enrich the bill.

The Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Finance, Mr. James Klutse Avedzi, and the Ranking Member for Finance, Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, made the appeal at a public forum on, “How Ghana plans to manage its petroleum revenues towards transparency, accountability and governance standards”, in Accra on Tuesday.

The forum was under the joint auspices of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and G-RAP as part of their special project on the oil and gas sector.

Issues pertaining to Ghana’s new natural resource appear to have been over-flogged in recent times, but the high patronage of the IEA forum
underlined the enormous interest Ghanaians still have in the emerging oil and gas industry.

The Minority Leader in Parliament, Mr. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu; a Deputy Minister of Finance, Mr. Seth Terkper, and the National Security Advisor, Brigadier-General Nunoo Mensah, were among the large audience who participated in the forum.

A Tax Policy Advisor at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr. Joe Amoako-Tuffuor, who was the main speaker, took the participants through the provisions of the Petroleum Revenue Management Bill, using diagrams, cartoons and other images that made his presentation very interesting.

The Petroleum Revenue Management Bill is currently before the Parliamentary Select Committee on Finance for scrutiny, after which It will be placed on the floor of the House “for further consideration and passage.

Dr Akoto Osei said although the bill came to Parliament late, it looked good and promised that the House would consider it critically in the best interest of the nation.

He said one good thing about the bill was that for the first time, Ghanaians would know how money was spent at the Ghana National Petroleum Company (GNPC), unlike what pertained in the past.

Mr. Avedzi, on his part, said the Parliamentary Select Committee on Finance would avail itself to best practices around the world, including the much touted Norwegian experience, indicating however, that the Norwegian experience should not be copied but adapted to suit the country’s peculiar needs.

In his presentation, Dr. Amoako- Tuffuor said revenue accruing from the production of oil belonged to Ghanaians and so it had to be used well.

He, however, noted that uncertainties in the oil industry, such as price fluctuations, required the prudent management of revenue accruing from the natural resource.

He said there was the need to ensure adequate public oversight over the utilisation of the oil revenue in order to enhance transparency and accountability.

Dr. Amoako-Tuffuor said the bill provided that revenue from oil production be put into three main accounts, with 70 per cent going into the Petroleum Account, while 70 per cent of the remaining 30 per cent was channelled into the Stabilisation Account and the remainder saved into the Heritage Account.

The Petroleum Account will be used to finance development projects outlined in the national budget and according to Dr. Amoako-Tuffuor, channelling such funds through the bud get would ensure proper monitoring and evaluation.

The Stabilisation Account will serve as a buffer fund to support a national budget under distress, but the bill provides certain requirements governing withdrawals from that account for the purposes of supporting the budget.

The Heritage Account is an inter-generational fund that provides long-term savings for the nation.

Dr. Amoako-Tuffuor said the Minister of Finance was required under the law to give a detailed report of the three accounts annually in the national budget.

Responding to a contribution on the need to address the concerns of oil communities in order to avoid chaotic situations such as those experienced in Nigeria, Mr. Tuffuor explained the situation in Ghana was not the same as that of Nigeria “and so we should not compare the two countries”.

Source: Daily Graphic

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