Parliament yesterday adopted the report of the Finance Committee on the Petroleum Funds for the 2017 fiscal year, with the minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) complaining bitterly about misapplication of the oil funds by the current government.
The ranking member of the committee, Cassiel Ato Forson, passing comments about the report before its adoption, said the government, in gross breach of the Public Financial Management Act and the Petroleum Revenue Management Act – which guide the management of the petroleum funds – had diverted oil funds into the funding of the Free Senior High School policy.
Former President John Mahama has always criticised the Free SHS policy introduced in September last year by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration, dropping hints of getting it scrapped if elected in future.
According to Mr Cassiel Ato Forson, the Public Financial Management Act says that 70 per cent of the oil money should be channeled into the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) while 70% of the ABFA must be used for improvement in physical infrastructure; “but the New Patriotic Party government has thrown the laws away and doing something completely different.”
He said instead of the ABFA being used to improve physical infrastructure, it is being used to finance the government’s Free Senior High School.
He said out of the GH¢202 million meant for the development of physical infrastructure, GH¢196 million had been used to finance the government’s programme.
Mr Cassiel Ato Forson said soon all the oil money would be diverted into the funding of the Free SHS to the neglect of the other sectors of the economy.
He has threatened that the minority would consider a court action against the finance minister to do the right thing as far as the application of the oil resources is concerned.
Presenting the Finance Committee’s report, the vice chairman of the committee, Kwabena Amankwah-Asiamah, said from January 2017 to September 2017, the petroleum receipts amounted to $362.58 million, equivalent to GH¢1.55 billion.
He said out of the amount realized, $126.67 million was allocated to the Ghana National Petroleum Fund while $217 million went to the Annual Budget Funding Amount
Mr Ato Forson said the total net profit on the Ghana Petroleum Funds (GPFs) from January to September, 2017 amounted to $7.03 million while GH¢29.2 million was transferred to the Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund (GIIF).
He said exploratory works undertaken by the GNPC in the Volta Basin for more oil was on course and that 2D seismic acquisitions and geo-chemical explorations had already begun.
Source: Daily Guide