Following the announcement that American multinational oil and gas company- ExxonMobil Corporation is to begin full operations in Ghana this year – 2018, it brings a lot of hope to the country’s nascent oil and gas industry.
However, following the latest accountability and transparency report index (P-TRAC) which focuses on the management of the country’s petroleum resources, increased disclosure of oil contracts and licenses is being advocated should government intend to be fully transparent in developments in the oil and gas industry.
A Senior Research Fellow at the IEA, Professor John Asafu-Adjaye, who presented the findings of the research at the IEA recently suggested that largely, managers of the country’s oil resources have performed creditably.
But he observed that the EITI requires oil companies to report their revenues and expenditures and the government is also required to do same. However, it is currently being done on a voluntary basis, and the Professor believes government can go a step further and have this provision legislated so that the oil companies wi8ll be compelled to report their revenues.
The Professor’s concern emanates from the IEA’s P-Track Index which said oil and gas funds transparency recorded the lowest score among the four components which suggests, a lot more needs to done to increase transparency.
Interestingly, the report urges the building of capacities for key public institutions that have oversight responsibilities like the Petroleum Commission’s PIAC and the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament. Professor Asafu-Adjaye also tasked the media and civil society to take a keen interest in petroleum revenue management and we have taken note of this public responsibility.
However, for us in the media landscape, this watchdog role can best be performed with the passage of the Freedom to Information Act which has sat in Parliament for ages for proper scrutiny. We believe its passage will contribute immensely to transparency and accountability which are foundation stones of democracy.
As it stands, without legislation compelling public officials to disclose information when the public needs it, will continue to witness the abuse of discretionary powers and will be in no position to hold them accountable. Hence, we support the IEA’s position of giving legislative backing to the publishing of oil and gas revenues for Ghanaians to appreciate how the country’s resources are being administered in their name.