The Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) has reiterated that all natural resources, including petroleum, irrespective of the location, are for all Ghanaians and not the host communities alone.
It said depending on the priorities of government, some revenue from natural resource would go the host communities.
Chairman of the Committee, Prof. Kwame Adom-Frimpong, minced no words when he remarked that “irrespective of the source of the resource, petroleum resources are for Ghanaians”.
He was speaking at a coastal belt forum held by PIAC as part of programmes marking the“10 Years of Petroleum Revenue Management” in Accra.
Prof Adom-Frimpong said the question of who owned natural resources had run throughout their engagements with the public nationwide.
“It just happens that this oil is coming from parts of Central and Western regions so if they benefit from it is fine but it doesn’t mean that it should concentrate there.
If you look at the greater part, we have Ashanti, Bono, and others where all the cocoa and gold money is coming from.
Presenting the highlights of PIAC’S 2021 Semi-Annual report on the ‘Management and Use of Petroleum Revenues,’ Prof. Adom-Frimpong emphasised that the consistent thin spread of oil revenues to fund different projects at the same time is not helping the country to realise the real benefit of proceeds from the natural resource.
He explained that petroleum revenues had often been used to tackle too many national problems at the same time, a phenomenon which weakened the potential impact of oil revenues.
“PIAC believes that few legacy projects should be identified and supported by the Annual Budget Fund Amount (ABFA) or else if we do it piecemeal we may not see progress in terms of the impact of oil,” he said
He noted that in the absence of a long-term national development plan, the PRMA gave the government the chance to select four priority areas out of the 12 stipulated every three years.
For the period 2020-2022, government’s selection includes agriculture, physical infrastructure and service delivery in education and health, road and other critical infrastructure development, and industrialisation.
“These choices don’t mean the others are to be neglected but the concentration should be more on the four,” he said.
Prof. Adom-Frimpong said PIAC was advocating for a tangible source of funds apart from the petroleum revenue to support the Free Senior High School (FSHS) programme.
Providing some statistics on petroleum production over the last 10 years, Prof. Adom-Frimpong noted that as of the end of June 2021, the country had raked in a total of US$6.9 billion.
Out of the amount, the ABFA had received US$2.71 billion, while the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) had US$2.12 billion, The Ghana Heritage Fund (GHF) received US$61 million and the Ghana Stabilisation Fund (GSB) US$1.46 billion.
The engagement by PIAC in Accra formed part of activities to mark its 10th anniversary, and was organised in partnership with the Greater Accra Regional Coordinating Council.
Coordinator of PIAC, Mr Isaac Dwamena, said invitations were extended to all identifiable groups and unions to reflect on the past 10 years (2011 to 2020) with regard to how petroleum revenues had been managed within the period.
Representatives from some security agencies, some political parties, trade unions, religious groups participated in the forum.
The PIAC was established by Section 51 of the PRMA with oversight responsibility in the management and use of petroleum revenues.
As it marks its 10th anniversary, Prof. Adom-Frimpong said it had made some modest achievements which included the amendment of PRMA to vary benchmark elements, regular tax audits on international oil companies by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and increase in surface rentals payments.