Use of oil revenue must be more transparent

BY: Daily Graphic

Ghana has achieved a five-year milestone as an oil exporter and despite the current low prices of crude, it remains constant that petroleum resources will continue to be significant in Ghana’s economic development in the medium term.

This is in view of the number of infrastructural projects earmarked under revenues from the sector.

Thus the petroleum sector remains a very important one in the listing of economic options that can help propel the development aspirations of the country.

There is therefore the need to improve the level of transparency and accountability in the management of the revenues.  That is why the Daily Graphic commends the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) for instituting the Petroleum Transparency and Accountability (P-TRAC) Index in 2011, which reports on progress made in enhancing transparency and accountability in the governance of Ghana’s petroleum resources.

The overall goals of the P-TRAC project are to promote transparency and accountability in the management of Ghana’s petroleum resources and to enhance the level of responsibility on policy makers and implementers.

It also educates and informs the general public about efforts being made to manage the petroleum revenues and highlights the challenges and concerns.

The 2015 report has shown that the country is steadily making progress in the overall effort at ensuring transparency and accountability and that must be applauded.

However, the report made some observations that in the view of the Daily Graphic must be noted and addressed as soon as practicable.

It identified that the current method of allocating funds under the annual budget funding amount (ABFA) was inefficient and diminished the development impact of the petroleum revenues.

The Minister of Finance, in the budget statement, said the percentage of revenue allocated to the ABFA had been used in the construction of 93 road projects but no further information was provided as to where those projects were.

As the report indicated, there is the need for a more inclusive approach in decisions on projects to be funded and the formation of a committee of stakeholders to advise the minister will be a step in the right direction.

The Daily Graphic believes in the sacrosanct role that transparency and accountability play in good governance and hopes that as much as the government is doing well in these indicators, much more effort will be applied in perfecting them.

Towards that end, we call on the government to take note of these recommendations in order to build more trust and confidence in the allocation and use of revenues accruing from the petroleum sector.