Thursday, February 16, 2017

Pressure mounts on govt to pass RTI Bill to improve transparency in extractive sector

Graphic Online‎‎‎‎‎: Ghana: Thursday, February 16, 2017.
The passage of the Bill, ACEP explained, would enhance transparency in the operations of the oil and gas sector, which many experts believe are shrouded in secrecy.
The Deputy Executive Director of ACEP, Mr Benjamin Boakye, said currently, it was difficult to get information on contracts and how revenues were being used because there was no law compelling the state institutions to give out the information.
“We urge the government of Ghana to consolidate the efforts of the past government through the passage of the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act, 2016 (Act 917), by passing the Right to Information Bill to enhance transparency in the oil and gas sector as promised in their manifesto,” he said.
He added in an interview on February 9 that, “If you have a law that enables you to demand data from the state institutions, then they will be compelled to give the information. In the absence of that, it is difficult to get information contracts.”
Mr Boakye explained that it was very critical to get information on oil revenues and contracts that were being signed on behalf of the people, something that was currently difficult to get.
Developing regulations
There are a number of regulations for the petroleum upstream sector developed by the previous government. The past government started developing regulations on the Petroleum Act. The Petroleum Commission led the development of Fiscal Metering Regulation, Health and Safety Regulation and Data Management Regulation.
Mr Boakye explained that it was, therefore, necessary for the new government to continue developing regulations for the sector to ensure that operations were guided accordingly.
“We further entreat the government to continue the development of regulations for the upstream sector. The government should continue that process with urgency and also develop regulations on licensing and management of Public Register of Petroleum Agreements,” he said.
Review non-performing contracts
Mr Boakye explained that there was the need for government to review non-performing contracts and prescribe sanctions where necessary.
“We urge government to take a critical look at the non-performing agreements and where companies have failed to fulfil their work obligations, take steps to punish them or abrogate those contracts,” he said.
On how to attract investments into the growing oil and gas sector, he said government ought to put in place investment incentives and ensure that the process of awarding petroleum contracts were open and competitive.
“The remedy into the future is to ensure that there is aggressive investment attraction drive through the application of the new Petroleum Act 2016, which set in motion the transparent process of awarding petroleum contracts through competitive bidding,” he said.