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PIAC calls for development plan to guide spending of oil revenue

 The Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) has reiterated the need for a long-term development plan for the effective utilisation of oil revenue.

The Committee said such a plan would guide governments in choosing and investing appropriately in the 12 priority areas outlined for oil revenue disbursement.

“Petroleum revenue has been used to tackle too many national problems... weakening the potential impact of oil revenue on social-economic development of Ghana,” Professor Kwame Adom-Frimpong, PIAC Chairman, noted, and said the absence of a plan had created a vacuum for governments to use oil proceeds to fund manifesto promises, some not addressing 'real' needs of the people.

Prof Adom-Frimpong said this in a presentation on the semi-annual report on the Management and Use of Petroleum Revenues for January to June 2021, at a stakeholder engagement with some students at the University of Professional Studies in Accra.

He emphasised the need for a proper impact evaluation of spending on chosen priority areas before new areas were targeted to help ascertain how oil revenue had impacted the lives of Ghanaians.

The Government has targeted four priority areas to receive support from oil revenue from the year 2020 to 2022. They are Agriculture, Industrialisation, Road, Rail. Other critical infrastructure development projects, as well as service delivery in education and health, will also receive support.

For the first half of 2021, an amount of GH¢914.6 million was disbursed to the four sectors. They received GH¢2.93 million, GH¢188,954, GH¢503.5 million and GH¢408 million respectively.

In a documentary aired at the forum, past chairpersons of the Committee highlighted the challenges that had been associated with the spending of oil revenue, including "partial support" for development projects, non-utilisation of allotted funds for projects, ghost projects, and the giving of money to financial institutions in " unclear circumstances".

Noble K Wadzah, a former Chairman of PIAC, said: “It is hurting to know that you go to some communities that are supposed to have benefited from oil revenue and when you go to see the projects, they are fast deteriorating soon after they have been handed over.”

He also raised concerns over how government agencies allegedly used oil revenue to champion political agenda of governments. “There is the tendency that people at the local level would perceive these agencies as the government” he stated.

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