Dr. Steve Manteaw, Executive Director of Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), has urged government to listen and address the concerns of communities to be affected by activities of the country’s oil exploration.
He said dismissing concerns of such communities as portrayed in the country’s oil management bill before Parliament, would lead to a Niger Delta fate befalling the country when oil exploration begins in the last quarter of the year.
Dr. Manteaw was presenting an overview of the country’s draft Petroleum Management Revenue and Authority Bills at a roundtable organised by the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG) and Ghana Pentecostal Council (GPC) in Accra on Monday.
It was to enable Faith Based and Civil Society Organisations to engage to define proactive and progressive ways which would influence implementation of the two draft bills and related policies.
Dr. Manteaw said the exploration would deprive the affected communities of their livelihoods, resulting in hardships which must be addressed by a consensual national policy ensuring fair treatment for all.
He said it was in the best interest of the State and government to begin to dialogue with the communities to ensure that the resources did not become a curse.
Dr. Manteaw suggested that government should review the country’s mining laws to ensure that government did not benefit from physical cash as revenue but to take a portion of the raw resource and add value to it to ensure increased revenue and create jobs.
He called for a review of the country’s compensation rate and law because they did not reflect current economic realities.
Dr. Manteaw said benefiting directly from exploring companies made governments to be unaccountable to the people because the chunk of the taxes did not come from the people adding, when governments rather take the raw resources and add value to them; it makes them accountable to their people.
He called on the government to ensure that oil contracts were transparent as they addressed human rights of especially affected communities to prevent companies from undertaking unfavourable environmental practices that might affect residents.
Reverend Dr. Fred Deegbe, General Secretary of CCG, said the forum was organised because of their position as major social partners, whose positions were essential for administering the oil sector.
He said CCG and GPC would make outcome of the session available to government.