Participants at a two-day National Stakeholders’ engagement on the allocation and utilisation of petroleum resources have proposed the setting up of community monitoring groups on oil funded projects as the state strive to ensure value for money.
The consultant on such projects according to the participants , must also be visible at any stage of project execution so that the communities and sponsors could when appropriate consult them on project differentials, alteration and any such observation that was worthy of implementation since the contractor only took instruction from the consultant.
The national engagement on petroleum sector governance was put together by Friends of the Nation with funding from the German Cooperation (GIZ)
The Various Interest group made up of traditional authorities, civil society and the media, the MMDAs and other state actors gave the innovative approaches to monitoring oil funded projects in line with “Mainstreaming resources governance at the sub-national level: bridging the gap between allocation and utilisation of petroleum revenues”, a theme chosen for the National engagement to demand proper accountability, value for money and local participation in the award and execution of contracts in that sector.
Other innovative approaches included; the establishment of community based monitoring teams on projects, pictorial and graphical presentation of projects including the cost and date of completion, effective community consultation and participation.
Another approach was the harmonisation of all sites visits by relevant bodies, the use of GPS and web based application to track location and status of project and ultimately, the involvement of chiefs in the certification and payments of contractors.
Dr Steve Manteaw, Policy Analyst and Chairman of PIAC stressed the need for the country to change the narratives with oil resources governance for more positive imparts and results.
He mentioned that the treatment of oil revenues as income for consumption rather than investments, lacked of transparency, and weak accountability in the management and use of revenues and non-participation of the citizenry in the management of revenues were key narratives that needed to be changed to improve the sector for tangible benefits to society.
“Evidence abounds to suggest that resource endowment can serve as catalyst for socio-economic development…It is therefore a paradox that after mining gold for over hundred years Ghana became HIPC and there is no doubt that this is as a result of governance failure.”
But, recently, the PIAC discovered massive abuses of projects funded with oil monies, six projects were randomly selected for the inspection.
“The three; Douri dam, Nakori dam, Farikiya Islamic Primary school were non-existent; Zebilla Secondary school dormitory project on-going but not the preferred choice of school authorities, Bagabaga Trainining college electrification project – abandoned and Saint Francis Girls’ Senior High School – Science rehabilitation centre shoddily executed.
Dr Manteaw said, further inspections in over 60 districts confirmed that the abuses are widespread adding…PIAC has also recently uncovered what looks like project diversion in the Brong Ahafo Region.
The PIAC has therefore appealed to the government to stop the practice of co-mingling oil revenues with other revenues, involving the Assemblies in project selection and monitoring, proactive dissemination of ABFA allocations to beneficiary communities at the time of budget presentation.
Mr Allan Lassey of the GIZ expressed worry about the generous terms on agreement signed with investors in the oil and gas and the extractive sector as a whole and called on decision makers to revise such national agreement in tune with international best practices.
He also called on traditional authorities to step up their roles in ensuring that communities benefits more and more from projects that met the need of the local people.
Mr Donkris Mevuta, the Executive Director of the Friends of the Nation said Ghana beyond Aid was possible only when pragmatic steps were adopted by stakeholders in the management of natural resources endowed the state.
“We have to begin thinking outside the box to achieve this Ghana beyond Aid vision…I believe it is achievable and Ghana can rise beyond Aid as a blessed nation”.
Mr Alhassan Iddrisu, Africa Centre for Energy Policy said Ghana must begin to think about legacy projects as exemplified by Dr, Kwame Nkrumah for the benefits of generation yet unborn.
“The spreading of oil monies thinly on developmental projects were not helping to achieve long term benefits.
Mr Iddrisu said it was time the government changed the approaches to project identification and financing…”we must follow the beautiful laws we have set for ourselves”