Work of Ghanas oil revenue watchdog hampered by lack of funds

The integrity of Ghana’s oil and gas resources will be better protected when the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) is given a strong legal status, observed Dr. Mohammed Amin Adam, Executive Director of the African Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP).

PIAC is a statutory body mandated to monitor and evaluate compliance of the Petroleum Revenue Management Law and ensure prudent use of petroleum revenues by government and various state agencies.

But this mandate to ensure Ghana’s oil revenue is prudently used is hampered by funding constraints hitting the revenue management watchdog.

According to PIAC’s Yaw Owusu Addo, the Committee, as at the beginning of the 2015, had a meager Gh1,000 in its coffers to run activities. This lack of funds has placed huge limitation for the committee to do its work.

“Our situation is dire, very dire,” he exclaimed. “This year we haven’t got any funding for our budget; it is only the benevolence of some benefactors which is allowing us to survive up to today but the money that must come from the taxpayer to support us so that we do this job is not forthcoming.”

PIAC’s annual reports on the management of petroleum revenues serve to inform the Ghanaian public on revenue and expenditure in the oil sector.

Dr. Amin Adam, however, says the legal status of PIAC is very weak as it lacks the power to summon public officials for information and also to go beyond the Attorney-General to proceed to court to prosecute people against whom adverse findings have been made in the mismanagement of petroleum revenue.

He therefore wants the Committee’s capacity adequately built to deliver its mandate.

“I have so much respect for the members of PIAC; these are members who are not coming from the industry background, they are coming from different backgrounds as journalists, as lawyers, as accountants, as traditional rulers, and so they need a strong secretariat with all the technical capacity and if they don’t have that they should be able to have consultants attached to the secretariat,” he requested.

The ACEP boss believes such capacity is critical to enable the Committee undertake its own independent analysis and technical work on the use of the country’s oil revenues.

Dr. Amin Adam hopes a review of the Petroleum Revenue Law should empower the Committee to leverage on its work done so far.

“PIAC in its current state can still play a significant role if they are given the capacity, in terms of the resources,” he noted.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

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