Minority disagrees with GNPC’s justification of acquiring loan without parliamentary approval

The Minority has disagreed with the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation’s justification of acquiring a $700 million loan without parliamentary approval.

The loan would among other things be used to fund GNPC’s increasing oil and gas infrastructure investment and cash call requirements from its participating and commercial interests.

But the procedure for contracting the loan has sparked a huge controversy with some civil society groupings and opposition MP’s describing the deal as illegal since it didn’t get parliamentary consent.

The GNPC’s press statement, issued today, mounted a strong defense for the procedure used in acquiring the loan.

Quoting relevant portions of the GNPC Act and the PNDC law, the Corporation justified why they didn’t need parliamentary approval before contacting the loan.

“Section (15) of Ghana National Petroleum Corporation Act, 1983 (PNDC) Law 64, says the Corporation doesn’t need approval from Parliament before securing a loan,” the statement said.

On the contrary, they needed the approval of the Ministers of Finance and Energy with the advice of the Attorney General to secure the loan, which they had rightly done so.

In a sharp rebuttal however, a member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Finance, Kweku Kwarteng told Live News’ Parliamentary Correspondent, Ekow Annan that the law GNPC was basing its justification on, is inconsistent with the 1992 constitution.

“If they have to contract any loan, they would need parliamentary approval. The law they are referring to, that they seem to derive authority to do the legal thing they have done, came before the 1992 constitution. Article 181 of the constitution is clear that GNPC being a state institution, if they are going to contract a loan or if government is contracting a loan on their behalf, the arrangement should come to parliament for approval. I disagree with them that they don’t need parliamentary approval,” he said.

Explaining further, the Member of Parliament for Obuasi West also noted that “I think that as the legislation stands, they are required to get parliamentary approval. If it turns out that there is an in-clarity in the law, I think parliament will need to do the necessary amendments to ensure that a state company that gets yearly remittances from the tax payer is not in the position to say I will take loan without recourse to the peoples representatives, that is parliament and that is why the position of GNPC is wrong, and we will do all it takes to ensure that this is corrected.”

He also added that “they claim they claim they are a commercial entity that is supposed to operate within themselves and do their own thing. Why do they keep getting these remittances from government? Article 181 of the constitution is clear on this, that if they want to do that they must get parliamentary approval, it is a position I support. It is not a contest, it is not that somebody wants to undo somebody or somebody will shoot themselves in the foot in the end. We want to make sure that we have an arrangement to protect public funds and so we will be pursuing the point we are making, bring together all the various legislations.”

Mr Kwarteng also hinted that, the GNPC boss would be brought before Parliament to answer why it went for the loan without seeking Parliamentary approval.

Ekow Annan/Live FM
ekow.annan@ymail.com/twitter: ekowskare

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