Ghanaians angry over misuse of oil cash

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Some Ghanaians have spoken against government’s decision to use oil revenue to pay for the cost of highly inflated projects, non-existing projects, and non-budgeted projects.

They did not understand why oil money would be used to support the ongoing project or already completed project when the same money could be used to undertake completely oil funded projects to openly display the benefits that Ghana is gaining from the oil revenue. They indicated that using oil revenue as counterpart funding for other projects create an avenue for public officials and politicians to loot and share them and it becomes difficult for the people to track and monitor them.

They want the government to use the oil money to exclusively fund developmental projects rather than using a portion to assist in completing projects.

This came to light when a team of observers from the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) and the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists, (IFEJ) inspected some road networks in the Ashanti region which were supposed to have been constructed with oil money.

For instance, it was captured in the 2016 budget that the 10.2-kilometer Anyinasu, Sekyidumasi road had been constructed with oil money. It was however realized that only GHC 6.5 million from the oil revenue was used to support this particular project.

It was also realized the 10.2 Kilometer road project which started in 2010 with an initial contract sum of about GHC17,2  had  its figure inflated  to  GHC  37 million(Thirty Seven Million Cedis)over a six year period   due to  delay in payment, high-interest charges on loans  acquired  by the contractor, cost fluctuations, unexpected  variations and additional and unexpected earth works on the project, according to the Ashanti Regional Highway Director  , Mr. Christian Nti.

The Municipal Chief Executive of Ejura Sekyedumase Municipal Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Baba in a statement at a forum organized by PIAC in his district said until the team visited them nobody in his district knew that the construction of the Anyinaso-Sekyedumase road was partly funded with oil revenue.  He said Though Ghana has been producing oil for the past six years it is clear from the lives of the people that “oil has not changed our lives.  We must establish an oil revenue development fund with an administrator to undertake its own projects separate from other projects.

Besides, some residents of Ejura-Sekyedumase municipality expressed disappointment about the way oil money is being spread thinly. They indicated that projects listed in their areas as petroleum revenue funded projects were completed even before the country commenced oil and gas production and want the government to use the oil money judiciously to benefit all Ghanaians.

Nana Adusei Mensah, a community leader in the Ejura Traditional Area questioned why PIAC was presenting a financial statement of oil money that had already been spent when they could have done that before the money is spent so they could track and monitor the projects. He, therefore, encouraged PIAC to do more to ensure that there is oil revenue is properly accounted for.

Dr. Steve Manteaw noted that there is a need for oil revenue to be separated from another project since commingling of funds with the oil money is not helping the nation. He said section 42 (2c) of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act indicates that when the Minister of Finance presents his budget, he is required to state the stage of completion of oil funded projects every year. However, all the finance ministers since 2011 have failed to abide by the constitutional requirements? He said the current Minister of Finance must be forced to do it to promote transparency.

It was also discovered that the 12-kilometer surfacing of Amantena Wioso Feeder Road which was started in 2008 had long been completed before part of the oil revenue was released to support it.

Engineers from the Ashanti Region Feeder Roads Department informed the team that the 12-kilometer surfacing of the Amantena Wioso Road Started in 2008 and completed in 2011 and that there were not aware that oil revenue was used to finance the project.  They were however informed that government had to rely on the oil revenue to pay the contractor when it could not finance the project from its initial source.

The team could also not locate a six-unit class room block said to have been constructed with part of Ghana’s oil revenue at a cost of 87,424.21 in Agogo in the Asante Akyem North District of the Ashanti Region. It was however clear the work had been done with regard to the surfacing of the Agogo Town Roads.

The 17 million- cedi Anyinasu-Sekyedumase road was funded with 6.5 million cedis oil revenue. Also, 3.6 million cedis of the oil revenue is said to have been used to complete a 10.2km Amantena-Wioso road in the Asante Akim North District. Surfacing of the Agogo township roads and construction of a 6-unit classroom block at Agogo Savior Primary School have a component of oil revenue but the inhabitants claim they are not aware.

PIAC has thus recommended that oil money should be used to fund projects from foundation to completion for the sake of transparency and easy identification.

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