Oil Revenue Shocks Students

Some students of Takoradi Polytechnic were astonished to learn that the money allocated to the Office of the President from the country’s petroleum revenue was higher than the amount given to an important sector like agriculture.

Available statistics indicated that for instance in 2012 an amount of GH¢65 million was allocated to the Office of the President from the oil revenue as against GH¢53 million allocated to agriculture.

The Polytechnic students also expressed regret at the assertion that no clear guidelines had been provided to the ministries and departments on the utilisation of the petroleum revenues, therefore, monies were not applied to priority projects as required.

Ghana’s oil and gas discovery brought along with it some new challenges in the economy.

The oil revenues that followed the start of oil production in 2010 provided the government with fiscal relief in the budget to finance much needed infrastructure which would have been financed from taxes or loans.

However, the disbursement of the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) had not been followed strictly to ensure that oil revenues are efficiently invested to bring about tangible and sustainable development outcomes.

This came to light when DAILY GUIDE spoke with some of the students in separate interviews at a public discussion on ‘The Extractive Sector Governance and Accountability: The Role of The Student’, organised by the Youth For Action Ghana (YFAG), in conjunction with the Liberal Studies Department of the Takoradi Polytechnic.

The polytechnic students suggested that any future campaigns on tracking down oil revenues should include allocations, disbursements and impacts made by oil revenues.

They also stressed the need to sanction public office holders who misappropriated public funds.

Speaking on the topic: ‘Ghana Petroleum Revenues -Issues of Accountability, Efficiency of Utilisation and National Development’, Dr Mohammed Amin Adam, Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), noted that it was important that the citizenry participated in discussions on the management of revenue from the oil and gas sector.

He indicated that when this was done, the country would derive maximum benefits from the resources.

Dr Adam said the citizenry would be shirking their responsibilities if they sat back for their elected representatives to decide how oil and gas revenue must be managed and used.

He stated, ‘The people must participate in discussions in order to influence decisions at all levels of governance of oil and gas and for revenue from the sector to be used for social infrastructure.

The people must speak up and demand development projects so that oil and gas does not become ‘resource curse’ and to prevent violent conflicts,’ he said.

Mrs Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, Associate Executive Director of the Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM), said the country must implement international protocols on mining to ensure sustainability in that sector.

She expressed concern that most water bodies in mining communities had been polluted, and people who used polluted water contracted all sorts of diseases.

Mrs Owusu-Koranteng spoke against mining in protected forest which could endanger animal life and degrade the environment.

Nana Kobina Nketsia V, Omanhene of the Essikado Traditional Area, who was the chairman, pointed out that the country’s culture encouraged the participation of the people in development programmes.

From Emmanuel Opoku, Takoradi

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