The Co-Chair of the Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GHEITI), Dr Steve Manteaw, has said there is the need for some critical interventions to halt abuse of revenues, especially in the mining sector.
With regard to the abuses, there was the need to hold people to account, and that was what they were trying to get the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) to do.
“Even if we don’t have the prosecutorial powers, we can resort to existing institutions of state that have it, so, the EITI does not just disclose but where you suspect abuse, you have to refer those cases to such institutions to investigate and prosecute, and that is how we can make that critical transition from transparency to accountability,” he stated during a media engagement to discuss the 2016 Mining and Oil/Gas reports and the Ghana Commodity Trading and Pilot report at Aburi in the Eastern Region.
The EITI is an international initiative among governments, companies and civil society groups to promote transparency in the flow of revenues from extractive companies to host country governments based on a set of criteria for transparent reporting on the revenue streams and other benefits.
Dr Manteaw noted that citizens should be able to demand accountability and that was why Ghana had signed on to the EITI to produce periodic reports to enhance transparency around the generation and spending of revenues from the extractive sector, among others.
Dr Manteaw said it was required of the citizens to ensure that resources were managed efficiently for posterity.
“Ghana is endowed with so many resources yet remain so poor. If citizens have information on how the natural resources are being managed through the EITI, it will encourage them to also participate to change the narratives,” he said.
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Transparency without accountability
Dr Manteaw noted that in the oil and gas sector, for instance, there was a lot of transparency but yet reports on abuse of revenues was very rife.
“We have so much transparency in the oil sector. The Ministry of Finance is publishing, Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) is disclosing, PIAC is disclosing, EITI is disclosing yet we are reporting daily abuses.
“Money is allocated for projects and you go and the projects are non-existent and you don’t know where the money has gone to yet we have transparency,” he said.
He, thus, called for a re-examination of the theory underpinning the country’s transparency initiatives as it had over the years failed to promote accountability.
“I am raising the question that we need to re-examine this theory of change. Transparency does not necessarily lead to accountability, something else must happen,” he noted.
It was organised by the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists (IFEJ) in partnership with the GIZ and the GHEITI for some selected members of IFEJ from nationwide.
Highlights of the report
The report on mining recommended that the multi-stakeholder group engaged the Ministry of Mines and Natural Resources on the issue of public disclosure of contracts on the ministry’s GHEITI website.
Mineral royalty came on top as the biggest contributor to government revenues in 2016. Corporate tax was the second-best contributor to government revenue dropping one place from its lead position in 2016.
The Minerals Commission provided data which was a marked improvement on that of 2015, however, it was expected that data from the commission on future EITI reconciliation would have more detailed categorisation of revenues received.