Surface Rental payments to the government by companies in the petroleum sector in 2020 remain in arrears to the tune of $2.1 million, the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) 2020 Annual Report, has said.
The PIAC Report said the 2020 arrears represent a 34.71 per cent increase over the 2019 arrears of $1.57 million.
The report indicated that the non-payment of the surface rentals denied the Petroleum Holding Fund of the needed revenues for development projects.
Against this backdrop, the PIAC recommended that the Ghana Revenue Authority, should, as a matter of urgency, initiate action to recover surface rental arrears with the appropriate interest as recommended by the Petroleum Revenue Management Act.
The report mentioned some of the companies owing surface rentals as Medea Development, which operated at East Cape Three Points, owed $156,540, Heritage (GOSCO) at East Keta, owed $532,366.67, and Sahara Energy Fields Ghana at Shallow Water Cape Three Points, owed $71,934.93.
The rest the PIAC Report mentioned were Britania-U, which operated at South-West Saltpond, owed $657,708.33, UB Resources Ghana Limited, Offshore Cape Three Points South, $67,666.58 and Swiss Africa Oil Company Limited, which operated at Onshore/Offshore Keta Delta Block, owed $712,500.00 and Exxon Mobil $30.00.
However, the state owed Amni Ghana $518.00, Heritage (GOSCO) $106,521.86, and Springfield and Exploration Limited, which operated at West Cape Three Points Block 2, $16,863.42 for paying their surface rentals in excess.
A member and Chairman of the Legal Sub-Committe of PIAC, Nasir Alfa Mohammed, who took reporters through the PIAC's 2020 Annual Report at a workshop at the weekend at Tutu in the Eastern Region, said some of the companies were not willing to pay the surface rentals because they felt the sanctions on the non-payment of surface rentals were not punitive.
He called for a national conversation to discuss measures to strengthen PIAC to give the Committee a strong teeth to bite.
The Chairman of Public Affairs and Communications Sub-Committee of PIAC, Eric Defor said it was the responsibility of Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to collect surface rentals from the companies operating in the oil and gas sector.
He said one of the companies operating in the oil and gas sector some few years ago left the country without paying surface rentals.
Mr Defor said the GRA made efforts to retrieve the debt but had to abandon the issue because the cost it would incur to retrieve the debt would be more than the debt.