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General News of Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Source: Ghanaian Chronicle

Oil Money Gone Missing Already?

Asaga Sparks Controversy Over Saltpond Oil Fields

The NDC MP for Nabdam, Moses Asaga yesterday sparked a controversy in Parliament when he alleged that that an amount of US $55million had gone missing from the sales of oil from the Saltpond oil fields.

According to him, a rough calculation he did into the operations of the company revealed that although government made US $55 million from oil production from the oil fields, it failed to capture it in the budget.

"If they have a different opinion, they should tell Ghanaians how much we have accrued in the oil account," he challenged government.

This drew the attention of the Deputy Minister of Interior, Kofi Tahir Hammond who rebuffed Asaga's statement, describing it as malicious since according to him, somewhere in April the member approached him for some figures in this regard which he gave him.

He explained that the figures he gave was in respect of the of about 200 barrels a day, multiplied by US $40 at the time due to the fact that oil from the field is sold quarterly.

The Nabdam MP bounced back denying having received any figures on paper from his colleague, stressing that he acquired the figures on a radio programme.

As such, he noted that if there were any figures in April, production had continued up till date.

The house broke into uncontrollable laughter when Mr. Hammond said he had had a personal intercourse with Mr. Asaga about the figures, which the latter is using as a basis for his argument.

It was the use of the word "intercourse" created the laughter.

After a while of heckling, the first Deputy Speaker, Freddie Blay presided over proceedings stepped in to confirm that the usage of the word 'intercourse' was appropriate.

Moses Asaga again resumed his argument with an explanation that if the right figures had been provided, it would not have created a contention.

He added that since April 2007, there has been continuous production with a change in the price of oil as such, he was right to say that the figures should have been captured in the budget statement.

Due to the continuous world price increase in oil, he said government kept informing Ghanaians that it had accrued revenue from its sale. "If they had told us the figures I would not be asking of it now", he said.

Minority leader, Alban Bagbin had cause to tell the house that the Nabdam MP was drawing the attention of government to a gap in the budget, which he described as a good thing.

Minister of state at the Ministry of Finance, Dr. Akoto Osei, said it is wrong for anyone to assume that government has not accounted for any revenues in the budget.

Then came K.T Hammond who said it government a lot of time to undo the contract which was originally signed in favour of the company operating at Saltpond.

MP for Bole Bamboi, John Mahama in his submission said the budget promises a bright future for a section of the society as such he cannot associate himself with that title since he is not part of that group.

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