Mr Charles Ayamdoo, Director of Anti-Corruption, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice,(CHRAJ), has described Ghana’s Petroleum Revenue Management Bill (PRMB) as the “cut and paste” versions from international best practice laws on oil management.
He said the bill in its current form, does not address the peculiar challenges of Ghanaian societies as it ought to do.
“Rather it seeks to respond to international requirements in the management of oil revenue, thus overshadowing the provisions on local content, which should have been higher.”
Mr Ayamdoo said this, when he presented a paper, on the assessment of the preliminary proposal by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, on the PRMB, at a civil society forum, organised by Publish What You Pay, Ghana, in Accra, at the weekend.
Publish What You Pay, Ghana, is a group of about 20 civil society organizations, engaged in advocacy in the areas of oil exploration, mining and revenue management in Ghana.
Mr Ayamdoo, said even though the incorporation of international best practice provisions in the PRMB was not out of place, the factors peculiar to situations in Ghana must largely inform the formulation of the PRMB so that it identifies with local exigencies.
He also criticised the clauses in the bill that declared certain information confidential but could be released five years after a request had been made for it, saying by that time, that information might not be relevant.
He cited Sao Tome and Principe, which adopted international best practices in its mineral revenue management law, in addition to other provisions, that safeguarded transparency and addressed the peculiar socio-economic needs of her people.
Mr Ayamdoo, therefore, proposed that there be increased transparency and access to information on the exploration and exploratory contracts, as well as the management of the revenue that would accrue from the sector, to reduce corruption.
He said in addition to the Finance and Public Accounts Committees of Parliament, there should also be a public oversight body whose capacities would be enhanced to co-exist with the committees to complement one another to check the operations of the sector to prevent waste and the leakage of oil revenue.
He said the bill should provide a more transparent budget-making process to offer civil society organizations the opportunity to participate and make their input into it.
He also proposed the establishment of a Ghana Petroleum Fund to moderate and monitor spending, as well as to compel the government to spend on development priorities, and to save and invest the oil wealth prudently to guarantee that future generations benefit from that natural resource.
Civil society members who attended the forum could not agree on whether or not the government should invest part of the oil revenue in heritage funds to benefit generations unborn.
Some argued that all the revenue be invested in infrastructural and other social needs for the benefits to trickle down to all.
Dr Steve Manteaw, Convenor of Publish What You Pay, Ghana, said it would put the views expressed at the forum into a document as the stance of civil society organisations and present it to the government.