Ghana to get Petroleum Law before budget is read

The Petroleum Exploration and Production Bill and Petroleum Revenue Management Bill would be passed before the budget for 2011 would be read in November, this year.

Mr Cletus Avoka, Majority Leader in Parliament,  said when Parliament resumes sitting on October 19,  efforts would be made to ensure that those bills are passed.

He, therefore, urged the committee working on the bills to expedite action to get the bills ready for the House to debate on them so that it would have time to scrutinize the budget without interruption.

Mr Avoka said this at a three-day workshop, organized by the Parliamentary Centre, with support from the Revenue Watch Initiative and the Canadian Parliamentary Centre for a section of Parliamentarians.

They are from the committees on Mines and Energy, Finance, Public Accounts, Lands and Forestry, Local Government and Rural Government, Environment and Science, Agriculture, Defense and Interior and the leadership in Koforidua, in the Eastern Region.

Mr Avoka said the bills should not overlap the budget period otherwise the House would either do a shoddy work or the bills would have to be sacrificed for the budget.

Issues discussed at the workshop include the Petroleum Regulatory Authority Bill, which is being formulated; Promoting Good Governance; Encouraging Efficient Natural Resource Development; and Petroleum Revenue Challenges.

Others are Spending; Savings Decisions and the Ghanaian Plan; Balancing Stabilization and Heritage Funds and others.

He noted that the committees had gone on tours and attended workshops in Ghana and abroad to learn the best practices of the Petroleum Industry and, therefore, Ghanaians expect a good quality Law.

The committee, he said, should approach it in a non-partisan manner, guided by patriotism and nationalism.

He said the nation needs a law that would address issues on accountability and transparency and one that can be implemented.

“If it becomes a bad law it would be tantamount to causing financial loss to the state.”

Mr Seth Terkper, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, said for the petroleum wealth to benefit Ghanaians now and in the future an effective industry regulatory environment is needed.

Additionally, he said: “There should be a fiscal regime effective enough and without which there will be very little to show for the depletion of petroleum resources and this include the development of the right revenue management regime.”

Papa Owusu Ankomah, member for Sekondi, called for the establishment of a Commission for the Regulation, Management and Coordination of the activities of the petroleum sector.

It is a constitutional provision that natural resources should be managed by a commission.
Source: GNA

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