More transparency required in oil revenue projects

PIAC, a body that tracks and monitors use of the country’s oil and gas revenues, is asking some very disconcerting questions which Ghanaians as a whole need to ponder seriously.

At a press conference held in Accra this week, PIAC Chairman Steve Manteaw stated that following some initial inspections of projects undertaken to ascertain the level of work done, it was revealed some of the projects turned out to be ‘ghosts’.

Consequently, PIAC has presented a compilation of these ‘ghost’ projects to the Attorney-General’s department for further investigations. This is proper and in the right direction, because it is important to allow for transparency and accountability in dealings that revolve around the resources of the land which our constitution describes as being ‘held in trust by the President on behalf of the people’.

Mr. Manteaw, for instance, states that over 50 percent of school projects inspected showed serious signs of deterioration in less than three years after completion, while the details for the contracts are sketchy.

In addition, successive Ministers of Finance have failed to comply with the provision of updates on the status of implementing Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA)-funded projects as required by the Petroleum Revenue Management Act.

Delays in the completion of some projects – notably roads, schools among other infrastructure funded with proceeds from the petroleum revenue – led to cost overruns of at least GH¢104million, according to some 11 projects monitored by PIAC.

In some cases, the cost of projects more than tripled as they stalled – usually due to reasons like lack of payment to contractors executing the job.

However, in all these, what struck us most is the fact that there was generally very little involvement and a lack of consultation with beneficiaries and metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies – and this is quite odd, since the raison d’etre of decentralisation in a democracy involves devolvement of power to the base in order to ensure representation at all levels.

Their input is crucial, since they are the best-poised to determine what is of importance to the community as a whole rather than it being determined for them. All these give way for circumvention of procedures in instances that defy the logic of value for money.

As a country we ought to demand more openness in dealings which involve natural resources, since they are vested in us all without distinction. People cannot be allowed to profit unduly from our collective resources.