A special Index project on corruption by the Institute of Economic Affairs of Ghana (IEA) has revealed that there is no transparency in the awarding and signing of oil and gas contracts by the Ghanaian government. The 2015 report titled ‘P-TRAC Project’ by the IEA examined secret documents regarding the management of Ghana’s oil and gas resources from last year. The IEA warned the Ghanaian government last week that the current rate at which it is borrowing could lead to a total collapse of the national economy. This generated some disagreement between the body and the government. And it has delivered a second blow to the government over the operation and management of the oil sector.
The IEA is Ghana’s Public Policy Institute with the aim of promoting good governance, democracy and a free and fair market economy for sustainable economic and human development. The body said the only improvement made in awarding of oil and gas contracts by the government is the establishment of the Petroleum Commission to regulate the sector and to advise the government on the award of contracts and licenses. Apart from this, the IEA said all measures put on paper before the oil business started in Ghana have been thrown to the dogs. The research capacity of Parliament which was supposed to be following the oil and gas industry with an eagle eye is completely weak, given the green light for perpetual corruptions to unfold in the awards of contracts in the oil industry.
The IEA observed that the Ghanaian parliament can help stop the corruptions in the oil sector by passing two bills into law which would allow the general public unlimited access to government transaction documents. “Progress in this area hinges on Parliament passing two important pieces of legislation that are currently before it. These are the Right to Information Bill and the Petroleum Exploration and Production Bill, both of which have gone past the first reading stage,” the IEA said. It also expressed concern over the inability of the country to implement long term development team to handle funds from the oil and gas resources. “In the absence of a long-term development plan for Ghana, decisions on expenditures in the priority areas are at the discretion of the Minster for Finance. Neither Parliament nor the Civil Society Organizations play any major role in decisions on the allocation of funds or projects to be funded”, the IEA added.
This is not the first time concerns have been raised over the lack of transparency in the awarding of government contracts in the oil and gas sector in Ghana. The opposition in parliament raised similar concerns last year. Ghana discovered its offshore oil and gas fields in 2007. By 2010, it had started pumping the first oil. Since then, oil has been produced in commercial quantities, and over the next 20 years, it could earn up to US$20 billion in export revenue for the country. It is expected that this will present an opportunity for the growth of the country’s economy but the picture has began to look different from what is expected. Quite a number of companies are scrambling to trade with Ghana in the oil sector. It is very difficult to verify their numbers due to restrictions on certain government documents, allowing them to continue to operate in the dark with the help of corrupt politicians.