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Government should institute alternative livelihoods for oil find communities – Economist

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An Economic Consultant, Mr Abdallah Ali-Nakyea, on Saturday called on the Government to institute alternative livelihood support projects for the local communities in the oil find areas to avoid chaotic situations in future.

He said the major livelihood of the coastal people in the Western Region was fishing and that  alternative ventures like aquaculture and small scale businesses for the locals would be appropriate since their fishing areas have been taken over by the oil companies.

Mr Ali-Nakyea made the call during a Youth Focused Oil and Gas conference held for more than 600 students drawn from the University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast Polytechnic and Mfantsipim Senior High School.

It was to enable the participants appreciate the general principles underlying oil and Gas ownership rights in Ghana, discuss how the youth could play their stakeholders’ roles to ensure effective oil and gas resources management as well as the governance and financial implication of the heritage fund.

Mr Ali-Nakyea said earlier demands by chiefs in the Western region for royalties to be paid to them for the development of the area was in the right direction since oil production has both negative and positive impacts on the environment and people living around the oil wells and urged the Government to ensure that oil companies operating in the country adhered to all the rules and regulations pertaining to oil production.

Mr. Ali- Nakyea who spoke on “transfer-pricing –effects, dimensions and magnitude”, said  Ghana would continue to lose huge sums of money through tax evasion by Multinational Enterprises (MNES) including oil companies if the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) was not well resourced to play its watchdog role.

He called for capacity building of staffs of the GRA as well as resource them to play the critical role of monitoring and evaluation to ensure that transfer pricing abuses did not thrive in Ghana.

On the way forward, Mr Ali Nakyea asked that MNEs contributed to the public finances of Ghana, their host country, by making timely payment of their tax liabilities and also comply with the tax laws and regulations in Ghana and should exert very effort to act in accordance with both the letter and spirit of those laws and regulations since obeying domestic law was the first obligation of business.

Mr Prince Agra, an economic policy Analyst, regretted that Ghana as a sovereign nation did not have any concrete policy on how petroleum subsidies are to be treated and stressed the need for a national debate on the issue.

He pointed out that despite the fact that petroleum subsidy has  advantages , it was equally saddled with  negatives impacts such as  fuel adulteration and smuggling,  adding that the effect  on the subsiding  countries was a substantial financial transfer to smugglers, whiles recipient countries  experience losses from uncollected taxes  and excise duties  due to reduced sales in the legitimate market.

On the way forward, Mr Agra suggested a petroleum subsidy regime that would target particular groups of people especially the youth, vulnerable in the society   and sectors like agriculture, education and health.

He called for the introduction  of a price stabilization  levy on every litre of oil  in addition to  hedging where the levy and gains  from hedging  could be deposited   into the petroleum price stabilization fund.

Mr John Gatsi, a lecturer at the UCC Business School, said since the oil find in the country,  stakeholders including the youth have shown interest in every aspect of the industry including  youth development programmes, community safety, transparent oil revenue management  and proper work plan.

The participants were taken through topics like oil and gas ownership rights in Ghana and the implications of the heritage Fund, transfer pricing-effects dimensions and magnitude and   petroleum subsidy.

Source: GNA

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