Ghana to Improve Transparency in Oil Contracts

From Voice of America

By Joana Mantey

In Ghana, efforts are underway to boost transparency in the country’s newly developed oil industry, which some say will likely double economic growth. New rules require the quarterly disclosure of contract agreements and oil revenues as a way of avoiding the corruption that that many African oil exporters call the “resource curse.”

The rules are included in two new laws:  the Petroleum Commission Act and the Petroleum Revenue Management Act. They aim to empower citizens to demand accountability from government as Ghana develops its petroleum sector.

Stephen Manteaw, the chairman of the Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas, describes the legislative push towards openness as a rarity in Africa. And, he says unfortunately, regulations are yet to be developed to make one of the laws workable.  In particular, a public interest and accountability committee has not been set up to monitor the management and use of petroleum revenues. It would also provide a platform for public debate on the spending of the revenues

“There is absence of regulations to the Petroleum Revenue Management Act,” he says. “We [had] a similar [issue] in the mining sector where we had the Mining Act in 2006, but it was only in 2012 that regulations to the act were developed. When you have a situation like this, it becomes very difficult to operationalize the law that have been developed to manage the sector.”

Manteaw says a Public Interest and Accountability Committee set up to monitor compliance with the law is poorly funded. The institution has no office space and is currently operating with the support of the German Development Agency and of non-governmental organizations such as Revenue Watch Institute.

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