By Frederick E. Agrey
KITE, an energy policy think tank and pressure group, has made a damning revelation of how Ghana’s oil money has been used over the period of 2011 through to 2016, revealing that monies from the oil sale were, in certain cases, spent on projects, which are non-existent and some which were of no need to the communities.
It was revealed that some projects, as reported by the Metropolitan, Municipal and District assemblies (MMDAs) as having been executed with oil monies, were non-existent.
One of the several instances revealed a six-unit classroom block, which was reported to have been funded by oil money in Duu, in the East Mamprusi District, was not found when the team visited the place.
In another case, a dam which was supposed to have been funded with oil money was not found. Presenting its Report on the Evaluation of key provisions in the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA), in terms of the usage of monies from oil sale, Ismael Edjekumhene, Executive Director of KITE, revealed at a stakeholders’ workshop in Accra yesterday, that even though the Petroleum Revenue Management Act stipulates that the government should invest oil monies in four priority areas, it rather spent the oil monies in other sectors.
It was further revealed that the government, within the period, also breached the provision of the law that states that “future petroleum revenue allocations should be guided by strategic medium-term plans that align with national priorities shaped through public consensus,” by spending on projects which either did not reflect the actual needs of the communities, or were simply different projects, which were entirely different from the ones reported by the respective MMDAs. He said over 60% of projects undertaken were not priority projects for the respective communities, whilst the very important priority ones were ignored.
He revealed that 44% of the oil money had gone into roads and other infrastructural projects, agriculture 11%, expenditure on the amortisation of loans amounted to 26%, Ghana Infrastructural Fund 8%, and the Public Interest Accountability Committee (PIAC) less than 1%.
He further revealed that huge monies (60%) were spent on capacity building, mostly in the education sector. He regretted that the monies were even spent in printing registers and attendant sheets for capacity building, and school fees subsidies, with the chunk also going into scholarships and capitation grants, supply of free school uniforms, and even supply of stationery, whilst these are supposed to be funded by the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund), which has an assured source of money supply. This, according to him, could be a breeding ground for people to misuse the GETFund monies.
He said the government stayed within the law to allocate oil money to four priority sectors in 2011, but veered off to 12 sectors in 2012, eight in 2013, six in 2014, eight in 2015 and six in 2016, in breach of the spirit of the law.
He also indicated that the law seeks to ensure an even distribution of oil money to ensure even level of development across the nation. In effect, the poorest regions should have received more of the allocation, but the reverse was the situation here.
The Western Region received the highest allocation, followed by the Greater Accra Region, with Central Region receiving the least of oil monies, followed by the three northern regions.
Franklin Cudjoe of IMANI Ghana, on his part, feared that there could be time the citizens would get angry at the level of misappropriation and misapplication of their hard-earned taxes, and the result may not be as we want.
He called on the government, and parliament especially, to be proactive in taking action on such issues, especially the periodic reports of the Public Interest Accountability Committee (PIAC)
He also called for an immediate forensic audit into these findings and many more by other institutions. He, as well, called for the amendment of the current law to reflect current issues.