Public Agenda (Accra)

9 July 2012

Ghana: MPs, Experts Fear GNPC Is Becoming a 'Monster'

The Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) would soon be coming under more pressure to account for how it has spent petroleum funds allocated to it.

The Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) in its first annual "Report on Petroleum Revenue Management for 2011" revealed that "GNPC has not yet published an audited report on the use of the funds (GHS 315,390,698) received to cover its activities in 2011."

The report however said, "They assured the Committee that this will be done soon and will be provided to relevant government institutions."

But according to Members of Parliament (MPs), the GNPC has failed to furnish the legislature with information on its spending activities, even upon request.

Also worrying is the posture GNPC has adopted over the years whenever petroleum contracts are brought before Parliament. The national interest-holding oil company, according to some MPs, sought to speak on behalf of investors (or oil companies).

Against this backdrop, MPs are determined to use their powers, as well as, those of the Petroleum Commission to bring GNPC to order and make it more accountable.

This resolve is shared by members of the PIAC and petroleum experts who believe GNPC is moving on a path of becoming "a monster."

These views were expressed on Friday at Aburi, Eastern Region, where MPs serving on Parliamentary Committee on Mines and Energy, members of PIAC and officers from the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice met to thrash pertinent issues.

The personalities partook in a two-day capacity building workshop organized by the Institute of Economic Affairs on the theme: "Making Ghana's Oil and Gas Resource Count." The event was supported by STAR-Ghana and Centre for International Private Enterprise (CIPE). Its purpose was for the participants to improve their understanding of the entire fiscal regime of the oil and gas sector to be able to exercise effective oversight over the management of the sector.

In an "Assessment of the Petroleum Agreements on Ghana's Jubilee Oil Blocks and Lessons for Future Agreements," Mr Mohammed Amin Adam, African Coordinator of Extractive Sector at Ibis, said "We should look at the position of GNPC critically... it must be more and more accountable, more transparent."

In terms of contracts, he said some of the opportunity missed during the signing of the Kosmos and Tullow contracts must be insisted on in future contracts because after two years of oil production, Ghana's risk profile for the oil sector has reduce substantially.

Based on his counsel, Ms Gifty Kusi, MP for Tarkwa-Nsuaem and member of the Committee on Mines and Energy, told Public Agenda that she and her colleagues would subject future contracts to stricter scrutiny and insist on better terms for the country.

Those better terms would include achieving the corporate tax rate provided in the Petroleum Income Tax Law (PNDC Law 188). The law provides for a maximum of 50% corporate tax rate.

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