ACEP quizzes Finance Ministry over unspent GH¢400 million

BY: Timothy Ngnenbe
Executive Director of ACEP, Mr Benjamin Boakye
Executive Director of ACEP, Mr Benjamin Boakye

The African Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) is asking the Ministry of Finance to account for about GH¢400 million of the annual budgetary funding amount (ABFA) that was unutilised in 2017.

A total disbursement of about GH¢733 million was made to the ministry to spend on priority sectors in accordance with the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA), but only GH¢333 million was utilised.

The Finance Ministry, however, failed to account for the unspent money, as required by the law.

At a press conference held in Accra Thursday, ACEP described the development as unacceptable and called on the Public Interest Accountability Committee (PIAC) to lead the process to demand accountability for the outstanding amount.

The Executive Director of ACEP, Mr Benjamin Boakye, who addressed journalists at the event, said "the difference of GH¢400.9 million is more than enough to have funded the total budget variance of PIAC, education, health, roads and other critical infrastructure".


Oil revenue

About $515 million was received as oil revenue in 2017, 53 per cent of which was allocated to pro-poor sectors of the economy.

However, according to a review of the 2017 Reconciliation Report on the Petroleum Fund conducted by ACEP, the outturn of receipts of oil revenue for the last year raised major concerns about compliance with the Appropriation Act and the PRMA.

Of procedure

ACEP accused the Ministry of Finance of failing to seek parliamentary approval for expenditure outside the approved budget, especially by disbursing GH¢6.92 million to the Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund (GIIF), even though it was not captured in the 2017 budget approved by Parliament.

Citing other issues, Mr Boakye indicated that the Ministry of Finance received parliamentary approval to disburse $45.3 million to the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) as its share of the net carried and participating interest (CAPI) but ended up disbursing $78.6 million to the entity without recourse to Parliament.

"We want to stress that the Ministry of Finance must seek approval from Parliament for expenditures outside the approved budget, such as happened with the disbursement to the GIIF and the GNPC," he said.

He called on PIAC to take up the issues raised in the review and demand responses from the Finance Ministry, as required by Section 52 of the PRMA.

Diligence

Mr Boakye also urged the ministry to get its act together and comply with the disbursement architecture of petroleum revenue as provided for in the law.

“The reconciliation report which was published in the first quarter of 2018 was supposed to give a full account of petroleum revenue in the preceding year, 2017.

“But the report that was provided by the Finance Ministry provides in Paragraph 74 that the GH¢333 million ABFA expenditure on priority areas is provisional. This is unacceptable and defeats the essence of the reconciliation report,” he stressed.

ACEP, however, acknowledged that the Finance Ministry was compliant with the PRMA by disbursing petroleum revenue to the ABFA and the Ghana Petroleum Fund (GPF).

 Mr Boakye said the GPF, which comprised the Ghana Stabilisation Fund (GSF) and the Ghana Heritage Fund (GHF), received $203.8 million.