The Public Interest and Accountability Committee, PIAC says it is in consultation with the Economic and Organized Crime Unit, EOCO, the Auditor General’s Department, Bureau of National Investigations and the Special Prosecutors Office to have persons who mismanage and waste Petroleum revenues on ghost projects and projects that have been shoddily done prosecuted.
This is to address the unacceptable manner with which Petroleum revenues from the Annual Budget Funding Amount is being utilized.
The Chairman of PIAC Dr. Steve Manteaw stated this at a workshop facilitated by the Ghana Journalists Association for Senior Editors at Ho, the Volta Regional Capital.
The Public Interest and Accountability Committee, PIAC has been established to among other mandates monitor compliance to the Petroleum Revenue Management Act and conduct independent assessments on the utilization of revenues from the oil sector.
Even though PIAC has over the years raised concerns about the mismanagement of petroleum revenues, little efforts are being made to address the concerns.
Since the Committee has no prosecutorial powers it has decided to collaborate with other state agencies to punish officials who may be found culpable in the mismanagement of petroleum revenues.
Dr. Steve Manteaw said there have been talks about making the critical transition from transparency to accountability to get value for money in the utilization of petroleum reveneues.
“PIAC is mandated to pursue accountability in the management and use of petroleum revenues”.
Unfortunately PIAC does not have prosecutorial powers and so it is unable to enforce its recommendations hence the decision to work with other state accountability institutions to see if they could help us to pursue the accountability agenda.”
He said with the collaboration any time PIAC’s report is issued it will be referred to EAOCO and other allied accountability institutions for further investigations and possible prosecution.
Dr. Manteaw said a memorandum of understanding which will regulate the relationships between PIAC and the accountability institutions will be signed; hoping that if that comes into effect it will enhance progress in the transparency and accountability agenda.
He explained that in the engagement with EAOCO it was agreed that PIAC presents cases relating to mismanagement and misappropriation, fraud etc from 2011 when the Committee was established.
On the possible cases that will be referred, he mentioned cases like non-existing oil funded projects and those that have been shoddily executed which indicate clearly that the nation has been short changed.
The PIAC Chairman mentioned Duri Dam in the Djirapa Area where some money has been allocated for the rehabilitation of the Dam in 2014 and in 2016 when PIAC visited the site no work was done.
There is also the Nakori Dam project in the Wa Central area where one hundred and fifty thousand Ghana Cedis was allocated from Petroleum revenue.
“The amount allocated was so ridiculous that I knew it was meant to be embezzled…. one hundred and fifty thousand Ghana Cedis which cannot even buy second-hand Toyota Corolla, yet it was allocated for the rehabilitation of a dam”.
“It was allocated in 2014 when we went there in 2016 nothing has happened.”
There is also Farikiya Islamic School in Tamale which benefited from a six Unit Classroom block and when PIAC visited no such block has been built with oil revenue.
“Also in the Upper East region, a village called Kologozua, was supposed to benefit from oil revenue for the construction of CHIPS Compound in the Navrongo Municipality, the CHIPS Compound has been constructed but the Assembly claims it built the facility with its own money and not oil money and so where did the oil revenue go? Dr. Manteaw wondered.
The Vice Chairman of PIAC Dr. Thomas Stevens reiterated the Committee’s advocacy for oil and gas revenues to be used on legacy projects that Ghanaians will be proud of when oil production ceases.
He cited projects such as the Akosombo Dam, Tema Harbour and Motorway as legacy projects that Former President Dr. Kwame Nkrumah did and years after the constructions generations who were not born during the period are today benefiting.
In similar vein he suggested the utilization of petroleum revenues for great protects that can last for decades.
“Looking at Infrastructure projects in this country, which project can the average man on the street point to and say that about 8 years since we started producing oil this is something that we’ve done with the oil revenue?” Dr. Stevens questioned.
The unavailability of such oil projects he noted is tragic. He said there is no doubt about the fact that a chunk of the over Four Billion Dollars received as petroleum revenue since production of oil in 2011 has been wasted.
He pointed out that even though some projects like roads and classroom blocks were done in some areas the projects were executed shoddily with no real trace of value for money.
Dr. Stevens observed that huge cost overruns due to delays in completion of projects have led to the deterioration of some projects across the country.
The President of the Ghana Journalists Association, (GJA) Roland Affail Monney underscored the role of the media in policing revenues from the Petroleum Sector and stressed the need for the media to support the work of PIAC.
He said PIAC expects an increased advocacy on petroleum revenue management issues from the media.
Mr. Monney who is the GJA representative on the Committee entreated the editors to help drive the transparency and accountability agenda of PIAC to ensure proper management of the nation’s petroleum resources for the benefit of the citizenry.
The workshop was to educate participants on the work of PIAC, highlight the positives and challenges in the management of the country’s petroleum revenues from 2011 to 2017 and other relevant national issues emanating from PIAC’s reports and projects inspections.
Journalists from the ten regions participated in the workshop.
Story by Dominic Hlordzi and Ruth Abla Adjorlolo