Business News of Friday, 15 March 2013
Source: Joy Online
The Member of Parliament for Assin Central constituency in the Central Region is challenging government to explain why it failed to transfer the right amount of funds into the Petroleum, Stabilisation and Heritage Funds as required by law from the country’s lifting and sale of oil.
Kennedy Agyapong insists there is a discrepancy in the figures for oil proceeds read in the 2013 budget by Finance Minister Seth Terkper recently and the report of the constitutionally mandated body charged with monitoring the use of oil proceeds, the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC).
The Petroleum Fund holds all the money Ghana earns from the lifting of oil, while the Heritage Fund was set up by law to receive and hold a portion of oil proceeds for future generations.
Ghana began producing oil in commercial quantities in December 2010.
Quoting pages from the Committee’s reports covering receipts of oil revenues in 2011 and 2012, Mr Agyapong, who threw the challenge on Adom FM’s Dwaso Nsem morning show on Friday March 15, 2013, explained that after setting aside a percentage of the oil proceeds for the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, the remainder is transferred into the Petroleum Fund, where about 70% is used to support the budget while the remainder is transferred into the Heritage Fund.
By law, government is required to transfer such proceeds every time a consignment of oil is lifted. However, this has not always been the case, Mr Agyapong charges, citing examples from the PIAC report.
“In 2011, government transferred $69.21 million into the Petroleum Fund after receiving $444million. But when Ghana received $979,315,485 in 2012, government transferred only $45,595,226m.
“The law requires that after every lifting, some money should be transferred into the Petroleum Fund. But this was not always the case in 2012. What happened? Where is the money?”
However, the Media Liaison Officer of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Abdul Hakim Ahmed attributed the differential to possible lapses in data collection and compilation, pointing out that several departments and agencies are involved in the aggregation of data used to write reports.
He maintained government had always operated above board in the receipt and use of proceeds from Ghana’s oil find, but pledged to furnish listeners with “updated figures” in the coming days.