ACEP demands whereabouts of GH¢400m ABFA

The African Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), has charged the Ministry of Finance to provide details relating to the whereabouts of some GH¢400.9 million which was not utilised in the 2017 Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) of oil money.

In its review of the 2017 reconciliation report on petroleum funds, the energy policy think tank said its analysis of the data shows that the government had GH¢733.2 million of the ABFA to spend, but ended up spending GH¢332.29 million, leaving a balance of GH¢400 million on which there are no details.

“The ministry has been anything short of transparent, efficient and detailed in ABFA utilisation and reporting,” Benjamin Boakye, Executive Director of ACEP, said during a press briefing in Accra.

The analysis shows that total disbursement to ABFA in 2017 was US$169 million, which translates to GH¢733.2 million, a GH¢41.7 million shortfall from the cedi equivalent of the projected disbursement for 2017, which ACEP believes, was conveniently revised by the ministry without corresponding explanations to the adjustment made to the budgeted expenditure.

“The ministry of Finance must immediately account for the whereabouts of the GH¢400.9 million of the ABFA that was not utilised in 2017 and provide detailed reconciliation of the petroleum funds with accurate data and explanations to all the discrepancies,” ACEP demanded.

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Additionally, Mr. Boakye observed that in 2017, the Ministry of Finance presented, and Parliament approved, a zero budgetary allocation to the Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund (GIIF).

However, he added, the 2017 reconciliation report on petroleum funds shows that an amount of US$6.92 million was disbursed to the GIIF from the first TEN liftings in the first quarter of 2017, which he described as a complete disregard for Parliament’s authority.

“The 2017 budget was read on March 2, 2017. This was 28 days shy of the end of the first quarter. Parliament also approved the budget on March 15, 2017. The question, therefore is: did the Ministry of Finance quickly turn around within 15 days after parliamentary approval to disburse unapproved funds to the GIIF?” Ben Boakye quizzed.

He also explained that by disbursing funds directly from TEN liftings to GIIF, the ministry clearly contravened provisions of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA), which states among other things that, funds to the GIIF must come from ABFA.

The PRMA further provides in section 21(4) that, a maximum of 25 percent of the ABFA should be allocated to the Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund (GIIF) every financial year, which he indicated was not followed.

Going forward, ACEP recommended that the Ministry of Finance must, at all times, comply with the disbursement architecture of petroleum revenues as provided for by the PRMA.

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It said the ministry must seek approval from Parliament for expenditures outside the approved budget and that the Public Interest and Accountability Committee should follow up on the issues raised in the 2017 reconciliation report on petroleum holding funds.

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