3 March 2011

Ghana: Petroleum Bill Passed

Parliament on Wednesday, March 2, 2011, passed the Petroleum Revenue Management Bill into an Act, despite attempts by some Minority MPs to scuttle its passage. The new legislation, which will govern the use of the nation's oil revenue will become operational when the President gives his assent to it.

The debate on the Bill has dragged on for months although commercial drilling of oil begun on December 15, 2010.

A key component of the Bill that generated heated debate between the two sides in Parliament was the refusal of Government to withdraw the Clause that allowed for the nation's oil resources to be used as collateral for loans. The Majority eventually succeeded in maintaining the Clause.

During the passage of the Bill on Wednesday after it went through a third reading, Minority members were generally quiet but did not show signs that they were completely opposed to it, although they had raised concerns about some inconsistencies in the Bill.

The Petroleum Revenue Management Act is supported by a Petroleum Exploration and Production Act.

But some members of the Minority side who planned to abort the passage of the Bill have vowed to carry out their threat of filing a suit at the Supreme Court to hamper the passage.

The suit is being spearheaded by four MPs, Dominic Nitiwul (Bimbila), Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh (Manhyia), Gifty Eugenia Kusi (Tarkwa-Nsuaem) and Kwabena Otchere Darko-Mensah (Takoradi).

The MPs took the decision on Wednesday February 24, after the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho, threw out an amendment that would have committed 10 percent of oil revenue from the Jubilee Oil Fields to developing the Western Region.

Mr. Adjaho had in his ruling on the matter, said the proposed legislations were unconstitutional and will offend the rules of the House if allowed to stand. But the MP for Takoradi, Hon Otchere Darko-Mensah said the Speaker erred in his judgment, hence their decision to seek an interpretation of Article 108 of the 1992 Constitution at the Supreme Court.

Before Wednesday's passage, one of the MPs, Hon. Dominic Nitiwul told Citi News even if the House succeeds in pushing the Bill through, lawful means would be used to nullify it.

"The first relief the lawyers are going to seek is that if the law is passed without our input, we will seek to say that it is illegal, null and void and for that matter the Speaker was wrong. And the Courts have the power to tell Parliament that it erred and so the Bill could be brought back".

"The second thing will be to determine whether what the Speaker did was Constitutional or not. Whether indeed the Speaker can say that because the amendment was not introduced by the President or Ministers of State it could not stand". CREDIT: Citifmonline.com

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