Major Daniel Ablorh Quarcoo (Rtd), the former Chairman of Public Interest Accountability Committee (PIAC) has urged civil society organisations (CSOs) to seriously engage government in discussions over the usage of the oil revenue.
He said professional groups, traditional and religious groups and other pressure groups need to effectively debate government on how the petroleum revenue could be used for the benefit of the people, especially the youth for the next three years.
Major Quarcoo gave the advice at an orientation forum organised by the PIAC, for assembly members of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) and other stakeholders on how revenue generated from the oil and gas for the past five years was being spent.
He said the forum would provide an opportunity for the public to debate whether the spending prospects and management of the revenues conform to development priorities and what positive impact it has brought to the people.
Mr Quarcoo said the biggest challenge faced by most oil producing countries are equitable distribution of revenue, good governance on all levels in exploration activities, transparency in decision-making process, hence the PIAC to provide space and platforms for the public to debate the management and the use of the revenue.
“We have to put up the right structures to manage the oil money otherwise Ghana would be as other oil countries as had always been the case in Africa,” he said.
The former chairman said: “This would provide independent assessments on the management of the petroleum revenue to assist Parliament and the Executive in their oversight responsibilities and performance of other related functions, to monitor and evaluate compliance to Act 893, 2015.”
He said since Ghana had found oil, there is the need for a vibrant media, strong civil societies, to play roles of constant oversight activities on legitimate and effective framework for the conduct of public policy to give a big push to transparency.
Miss Lydia Sackey, the Director of Budget of the AMA, said the emergence of oil in Africa has led to abandonment of other important sectors which has not brought about high standard of living for the people.
She said there is the need for stakeholders to take up the oil and gas industry issue as priority, to protect the interest of the citizens to make it a blessing rather than a curse.
Miss Sackey urged assembly members to take proactive measures to demand for their participation in the decision-making process to secure good environmental protection for the people.
Among issues raised by the participants at the forum are ambitious action plan with dedicated attention to rural development, agriculture and industry, science and technology, healthcare, infrastructural development and housing delivery, to enable the youth to derive maximum benefits from the petroleum revenue.
Mr Isaac Dwamena, the Account and Finance Manager of PIAC took participants through some of the projects executed with the oil money.