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Diversify investment of heritage fund — Gatsi

BY: Samuel K. Obour

Mr John GatsiA petroleum economist has suggested to the government and the Bank of Ghana to diversify the investment of the country’s heritage oil funds to keep some investments locally.

Currently, the country invests funds meant for future generations, known as the Heritage Funds, abroad in “secured international investment environment.”

Mr John Gatsi, who is also a lecturer in Finance at the University of Cape Coast, said although investing abroad could shore up the country’s reserves, the government should have confidence in the local investment fund managers and keep some of the funds locally to improve liquidity and check risk.

Mr Gatsi made the suggestion on Friday when he presented a paper on the petroleum revenue accountability and local content strategy to students of Swiss Management Centre (SMC) University in Accra.

The university, which offers online undergraduate, and graduate, programmes, including doctorate courses for students across the world, holds periodic social events for networking and academic presentations. The university has over 500 students in Ghana currently offering various courses, mostly PhD courses, online.

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Mr Gatsi lauded the country’s Petroleum Revenue Management law which, he said, laid out clear guidelines on spending, investing and transparent accounting for the proceeds the country got from its petroleum resources.

“Ghana has so far shown that it follows best practice in managing its oil revenues. However, the investment of funds is skewed in favour of so-called international investment environments. We need to diversify our investments and manage some locally,” the economic analyst and finance lecturer said.

He also praised the accountability clauses in the law and its reporting in the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of government, adding that while the Stabilisation and Heritage funds were a good creation in the law, the best form of protecting the future was in investing heavily in social and economic infrastructure.

“The greatest investment to assure the future generation is investing today in social and economic infrastructure – good roads, ports, rail network, hospitals, and building infrastructural inter-linkages between the rural and urban areas,” Mr Gatsi stated.

On local content, the economic analyst said it was important for the government to leverage the policy and first equip small and medium scale enterprises to take advantage of it.

The SMC Ambassador for Ghana, Mr Maxwell Gakpo, said the school, which first announced its presence in the country in 2007, had so far graduated more than 30 persons who took courses online.

There were, however, over 500 students still offering various courses, mostly at the doctorate level, adding that this year alone 80 persons would be graduating.

By Samuel Doe Ablordeppey/Daily Graphic/Ghana