A member of the Public Interest Accountability Committee (PIAC), Mr Noble Wadjah, has reiterated the need for the government to clearly define the areas it intends to spend petroleum revenues.
He said petroleum revenues had been used to tackle too many national problems at the same time and that had weakened the potential impacts of oil revenues on the socio-economic development of the country.
At a public forum in the Berekum Municipality in the Brong Ahafo Region, Mr Wadja said: “PIAC believes there ought to be properly defined guidelines in the selection of the priority areas.”
The government has selected four priority areas for the use of petroleum revenues for 2017 to 2019.
The areas are: agriculture; road, rail and other critical infrastructure development; physical infrastructure services delivery in education; and health.
PIAC, comprising professionals, pressure and traditional/religious groups who undertake compliance monitoring on oil-funded projects and provide a platform for public debate on them and undertake independent assessments, organised the forum, in collaboration with the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists (IFEJ), with support from GIZ.
Some participants expressed concerns about the impact of oil revenues on youth employment creation.
To them, it should be used to provide long-term jobs for the teeming youth who are unemployed.
The Chairman of the PIAC, Dr Steve Manteaw, corroborated that the money the country received from oil presented a golden opportunity to provide sustainable jobs.
"We can set a goal that any project we will undertake with our oil money will be geared towards job creation and use tax revenue for other things," he said.
Duplication of roles
Dr Manteaw emphasised the need for institutional re-alignment of the agencies involved in petroleum management.
He said institutions such as the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) and the Bulk Oil Storage (BOST) perform the same functions, hence if they are merged, they can reduce bureaucratic cost.
"TOR imports and stores crude in a tank to refine. BOST also imports and stores crude. If they can be merged to become one institution to refine for local consumption and at the same time maintain national strategic reserve,” he stated.
He disclosed that a paper to the above effect had been presented to the government for consideration.
Money accrued from oil from 2011 to now amounts to US$4 billion. Sources of petroleum revenues include royalties of five to 12 per cent, 35 per cent of corporate income tax, a minimum of 15 per cent carried and participating interest and surface rentals of which rates vary from agreement to agreement.