Ghana should invest oil and gas revenue in domestic economy – Prof Collier

Ghana has been advised to channel its oil and gas investment into its domestic economy and focus on building capacities to handle such investments rather, than seeking to investment abroad and overspending on public infrastructure.

Professor Paul Collier, who is the Director for the Centre for the Study of African Economics, University of Oxford, United Kingdom, gave the advice at the opening of the 63rd Annual New Year School and Conference in Accra on Monday.

Addressing the theme for the event, “One year of Oil and Gas Production: emerging Issues”, he indicated that the oil and gas sector was time bound and therefore it was critical for the managers of the resource to use proceeds from the sector judiciously to finance the future of the country.

Prof. Collier who is also a world renowned economist and an oil and gas expert, said by appropriately saving and investing the revenues from oil,  the economy could rectify its initial shortage of capital, in the process enjoying a phase of growth in excess of global rates.

He called for strong institutions with highly dedicated managers who would accept the enormous challenge of high savings for future generations, adding, investment in education and skills enhancement of the younger generation to manage the sector was also important, stressing that the “temporality” of the source of revenue makes it more critical for proper utilization.

“The proportion of savings must rise as the asset gets depleted,” stating that the rise in the current prices of crude oil in recent times had led to several new discoveries of oil and gas in various countries and this makes it even more important to ensure high level of management for the benefit of future generations.

He cited strategies such as hedging, which is a form of insurance guarantee and liquidity to lower inflation and recommended the establishment of stringent rules to manage the asset.

Prof. Collier also recommended the establishment of two funds; the Sovereign Resilience Fund to ensure smooth spending and a Sovereign Development Fund to ensure spending on domestic assets.

He said investment in education infrastructure would ensure that at the end of the depletion of the oil asset, Ghana could count its profits.

“It is critical for Ghana to either repeat history or learn from the history of others”, he said.

Based on the submissions of Prof. Collier, Professor Yaw Oheneba-Sakyi, Director, Institute of Continuing and Distance Education (ICDE) indicated that to position Ghana in competitive  posture ,required bold steps to confront the challenges of the current educational system to eliminate the mismatch between the skills demanded by the labour market and what the current educational and training programmes could supply.

He said the Institute had shown commitment in running the University’s Distance Education programmes despite some challenges and had continued to train and supervise course-writers leading to the development of 270 course modules for the Bachelor of Arts (B.A) degree in Administration in the Accounting and Management option; B.A degree in Economics, Geography and Resource Development, History, Information Studies, Linguistics, Political Science, Psychology, Social work and Sociology.

He said the Institute had also received new proposals from four departments to mount the Distance modes in B.Sc Botany and Animal Conservation Sciences, Bachelor of Science (B .Sc) in General Agriculture, B.Sc in Statistics and B.A in Archaeology and Heritage Studies and had trained 77 tutors to add up to the 514 tutors who provided student counseling and support services throughout the country.

He said the Institutes had a current students’ population of about 8,400 in the 2011/2012 academic year which was a nine-fold increase from a modest number of 906 pioneering students registered for the 2007/2008 Academic year.

He said the Institute desired in the near future to change its status from an Institute to a College to correspond with the growth in distance learning enrollment in degree programmes, occupational and continuing education programmes as well as courses leading to the award of Diplomas, B.A, M.A/M.Phil and Ph.D.

Source: GNA

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