The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Finance and Energy has recommended to Government to formulate a policy that will target the accelerated development of the Western Region of the country.
According to the Committee, the Region has suffered underdevelopment over the years and it is necessary that Government takes pragmatic steps to ensure development in the area.
The recommendation was made known by the Chairman of the Finance Committee, Hon. Klutse Avedzi, when he moved the motion for the second reading of the Petroleum Management Bills currently before the House.
He said, Government in formulating the Bill took into consideration international best practice and experiences from oil producing countries like Sao Tome and Principe, Norway, Nigeria, Trinidad and Tobago and Angola, adding that a lot of consultations have been done to collate views of Ghanaians on the management and the utilisation of the petroleum revenue.
Hon. Klutse Avedzi pointed out that as part of efforts to ensure transparency, revenue from the sector will be paid into the Petroleum Account which permits three types of disbursements.
Thus, budgetery support disbursement into the Ghana petroleum funds and exceptional disbursements are permitted by the act.
He observed that the Ghana Stabilisation Account has also been established to cushion the economy and sustain public expenditure capacity during periods of petroleum shortfalls, noting that the Ghana Heritage Fund has also been established as an investment fund for the benefit of the future generations when the reserve gets depleted.
The Chairman explained that at the end of commercial production of the oil in Ghana, the Heritage and the Stabilisation fund will be consolidated into a single fund which will christened Ghana Petroleum Wealth Fund.
He noted that clause 45-50 of the bill also mandates the Audit Department of the Bank of Ghana to be responsible for the internal audit of the Ghana Petroleum Funds whilst the Auditor General will be responsible for the external auditing.
Seconding the motion, Ranking member for Finance Committee and a former Finance Minister, Dr. Osei Akoto said that the call by the Western Regional House of Chiefs is as a result of the recent developments in the country in which government is giving special development interventions to some other regions citing the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) as an example of a special development intervention for the three northern regions.
He also touched on the petition filed by the Western Regional House of Chiefs, seeking 10 per cent of the oil revenue, saying that the Region has suffered underdevelopment over the years and that it is necessary that special interventions are taken by government to accelerate the development of the region.
The 65 clause bill prohibits the use of oil revenue as security for borrowing and spells out the formulae for the management and utilisation of the oil and gas revenue.
It proposes that 50 to 70 per cent of the total revenue from oil and gas will be used to support the budget each year and save the remainings.
Source: ISD (Gilbert Ankrah)