Policy analyst deplores irregular use of petroleum revenue

BY: Dotsey Koblah Aklorbortu
Dr Steve Manteaw
Dr Steve Manteaw

A policy analyst with the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), Dr Steve Manteaw, has deplored what he said, is a blatant disregard for the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA) by past and present governments.

He accused them of repeatedly inventing ways of smuggling funding meant for other areas into education, although education was not an original part of the 12 priority areas stipulated in the act.

Funding for agriculture, industry, science/technology, social welfare, rural development, strengthening of institutions, housing delivery, alternative energy sources, potable water, infrastructural development, environmental protection and mental health are captured under the act.

At the second Daily Graphic, Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) and Star Ghana National Dialogue on Education in Ghana, Dr Manteaw said the economy, no doubt, could not sustain the free senior high school (SHS) system using the revenue captured under the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund).

Dr Manteaw, who is also the Chairman of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), was speaking on the theme: “Sustainable Partnerships for Education Financing – Leveraging Natural Resource Revenue For a Better Education Infrastructure in Ghana.”

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He said even though he was not against the government using oil money to finance education, “my problem is using petroleum revenue to finance education which is not captured by the framers of the PRMA because education is already provided for in the GETFund”.

“If the government has to continue to tamper and bridge the application of the PRMA, we either have to amend the law to make education a priority area or include education-related expenditure under capacity building or infrastructure,” he added.

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Annual Budget Funding

Dr Manteaw said currently, the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) provided substantial scope for financing free SHS.

He contended that because education was not one of the priority areas covered by the PRMA, touching the oil revenue to finance education and recurrent expenditure was a deliberate move by governments, saying the practice was unacceptable.

“Therefore, we should enhance the quality of negotiation of oil and gas contracts and tighten tax laws to avoid unnecessary loss of tax revenue, as well as give timely legal backing to policy decisions for the monthly payment of mineral royalties and prevent transfer mispricing to ensure a lot is generated,” he stressed.

Mineral revenue

Dr Manteaw noted that mining also had the capacity to contribute to education funding. However, he said it was unfortunate that no framework to guide the management and use of mineral revenue had been developed.

“We must redirect corporate social responsibility spending to prioritise contribution to education,” he proposed.

“How do we intend to harmonise the management of the pool of resources accruing to the GETFund, with other revenue streams intended to fund free SHS?” he queried.

“If we are able to manage resources that may be available for free SHS in a transparent, accountable and prudent manner, it will serve as an incentive for our development partners to support us should we run into difficulty.

Eliminate waste, corruption and tax abuse and we will be on our way to sustaining free SHS financing,” he maintained.