Vice President Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur on Friday assured Ghanaians of effective management of the nation’s oil proceeds, and tasked the media and civil society to continue to hold Government accountable to facilitate transparency.
He said the proceeds would be fairly distributed, and other related matters effectively handled for the oil exploitation to become a blessing rather than a curse.
In a panel discussion on resource wealth management at the World Economic Forum on Africa 2013, underway in Cape Town, South Africa, the Vice President said Government had put in place the necessary legislative framework for the effective management of the exploitation the oil resources.
Ghana discovered oil in commercial quantities in 2007 and actual production began in 2011, but fears are that the oil exploitation if not well handled would turn out to rather affect the people negatively through unfair distribution of benefits and its attendant social and environmental problems.
On the panel were Mr Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, Chief Executive Officer, Access Bank Plc; Ms Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International UK; Mr Ricardo Saad, Global Director, Capital Projects, Africa, Asia, and Australia, Vale Mozambique; and Mr Andrew Wales, Senior Vice President, Sustainable Development, SABMiller, UK, representing banking and financial sectors, industry, civil society, and the Vice President representing Government.
The spotlight fell on Ghana, and the Vice President took the opportunity to explain that Ghana had taken lessons from other countries and had put in place measures to ensure domestic participation, prevent an over-reliance on oil to the neglect of agriculture, the mainstay of the Ghanaian economy, protect the environment and avoid other problems.
Vice President Amissah-Arthur told the panellists that the Ghana had placed premium on domestic participation in the oil industry, hence the 10 per cent stake to Ghanaians.
He said Government is also working on the development of local content in the industry.
Government had created Stabilisation and Heritage Funds as well as a Fund for Agriculture, Food Supply Support Programmes and introduced Public Interest Accountability Committee to make an in-depth assessment on the receipts and management of the oil proceeds.
Vice President Amissah-Arthur, an Economist and former Governor of the Bank of Ghana, expressed the need for nations to ensure growth of their economies.
He said improvement in growth would translate into disposable incomes.
In order to maintain food productivity, he said Government is supporting agriculture with improved seeds, improving road networks, irrigation programmes and the creation of buffer stock.
Government is also adopting measures to make agriculture more attractive to the younger generation.
The panellists praised Ghana for the sound legislation on the oil and industry, and stressed the need for enforcement of such laws to make oil really a blessing.
Ms Byanyima, said: Ghana is getting it right in instituting structures for the oil sector.