A training workshop to support capacity development in anti-corruption agencies and empower them to identify and check abuses in the oil and gas industry has taken place in Accra.
The two-day workshop, which formed part of a STAR-Ghana-sponsored project titled "Evidence-Based Advocacy on Implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (NACAP) in the Oil and Gas Sector," was organised by the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP).
Representatives from select anti-corruption agencies in Ghana, including the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), the Ghana Police Service (GPS), the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), the Auditor-General's Department, Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), Ghana Anti-corruption Coalition (GACC), Judicial Service of Ghana, Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) and the Media, attended the workshop.
The theme for the workshop was 'Combating corruption in the oil and gas sector in Ghana.'
A communiqué issued at the end of the workshop notes that the emerging oil and gas industry in Ghana increases the risk of official corruption and poses a serious threat to the governance of the country; the experience of many oil-producing countries shows that oil-induced corruption could turn Ghana's oil wealth into a curse; the process for awarding petroleum contracts in Ghana is administrative and, thereby, provides room for abuse by public officials; and that corruption as described by President Mahama is "mass murder" and deprives many people of basic necessities of life.
The communiqué, therefore, called on Parliament to expedite action on the adoption of the National Anti-Corruption Action plan as a comprehensive response to corruption in Ghana; incorporate anti-corruption clauses in the new Petroleum Laws, the Regulations and Petroleum Agreements to reduce the incentives for corruption; and expedite action on the passing of the Right to information Bill into Law.
The communiqué emphasized the need for the discretionary powers conferred on the Minister responsible for Petroleum to decide persons who qualify to hold equity in petroleum licenses as provided for in the Petroleum (Local Content and Participation) Regulations, and any other discretionary powers in any Petroleum law or regulation to be regulated in accordance with article 296 of the 1992 Constitution.
The communiqué notes that the development of the new Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Bill provides an opportunity to increase transparency in the petroleum contracting process where the risk of corruption is very high and, therefore, calls for the adoption of an open and competitive bidding process of oil concessions, mandatory contract disclosure and the disclosure of beneficial ownership information.
The communiqué urges Government to develop oil and gas metering regulations as a matter of urgency in accordance with the Petroleum Commission Act, 2011 (Act 821) and support capacity development efforts of relevant agencies to effectively implement the regulations and prevent metering-related corruption in the oil and gas industry.
The communiqué further urges Government to follow the path of dialogue with communities in the acquisition of land to prevent future conflicts with community members. This, the communiqué says, will ensure that communities complement government efforts at protecting oil installations including pipelines for the transportation of petroleum.
The communiqué calls on Government to demonstrate political will in the fight against corruption by supporting anti-corruption agencies with increased budget, training and logistics to expose, investigate and check corruption in the oil and gas industry.
The communiqué also calls on all Ghanaians to campaign for and support the recommendations of the Constitution Review Commission on provisions that promote transparency and accountability and abhor corruption.
Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney)