By Linda Akrasi Kotey
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Essakado/Ketan and former Attorney General, Joe Ghartey, has called on the government to set up a commission to regulate the oil industry, before Parliament passes the revenue authority management bill into an act.
He argued that without the setting up of the commission, it would be impossible for parliament to pass the petroleum bill.
Mr. Ghartey made this submission when he spoke on behalf of the minority during the second reading of the petroleum revenue management bill.
Joe Ghartey noted that the question, as to whether parliament was interested in establishing an oil and gas commission, is beyond dispute, because they had all agreed on setting it up already.
He submitted that if the house had come to a conclusion that they needed a commission for this purpose, then that law must be passed first, since that would influence them in passing other laws relating to petroleum.
He noted that it was not too late for the house to do what was right, as the people of Ghana, in the 1992 constitution, decided that “the natural resources of this country be managed, utilised, coordinated and regulated in a particular way by an independent commission.”
The Chairman of the Mines Committee, Moses Asaga, on his part, said the issues that Mr. Ghartey was raising on the floor had been discussed severally at committee meetings, as such he did not see the relevance of the matter now.
He mentioned that it was only when the motion was moved on the floor before it becomes relevant, adding that what the member was quoting, was not the same as the revenue bill, and that some of the members were confusing the exploration and production bill with the revenue management bill. “The two are not the same,” he added.
The committee, in its report, stated that the bill seeks to provide a framework for the collection, allocation and management of petroleum revenue in a responsible, transparent and accountable manner, for the benefit of current and future generations of Ghanaians.
The bill therefore, provides a clear assignment of responsibilities from the point of collection to the final utilisation of petroleum revenue, in addition to regularity of audits and publication of receipts and disbursement of petroleum revenue.
The committee observed that giving 10% of the petroleum revenue to a fund for the region, as had been proposed by the chiefs in the Western Region, may defeat one of the primary objectives of the bill, which is to avoid ring-fencing of petroleum revenues.
They however, admitted that the region had suffered under-development over the years, and it was therefore important that special interventions are taken by the government to expedite the development of the region.
The committee recommended that due cognisance be given to the concerns when the petroleum bill is being considered.