Civil Society Platform On Oil and Gas (CSPOG), a coalition of civil society platform organisations, cautioned against oil companies to desist from their subtle attempts to undermine the passage of the Local Content Legislative Instrument (LI).?The LI is currently before Parliament.
Dr Jemima Nelson-Nunoo, a member of the Steering Committee of the CSPOG, who gave the warning at a media conference in Accra, said such efforts by the companies have been given further impetus by the United States Ambassador who?stated recently that: ?Ghana?s Local Content Law in the Oil and Gas sector would make it difficult for the country to attract the needed foreign capital, technology and expertise?.
CSPOG said intelligence information gathered by members suggests that international oil companies operating in Ghana are seeking to dilute the content of the bill in a way that would deprive Ghanaians of the opportunities it offer.
The best way to maximise benefits from natural resources is through a good local content legislation, Dr Jemima Nelson, Member, Steering Committee, Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas, has noted.
According to her, any attempts by the international oil companies to undermine Ghana?s oil and gas local content regulations, Dr Nelson expressed concern over the lack of a full complement of laws to govern the oil and gas sector three years into oil production in Ghana? with the Petroleum Exploration and Production Bill and the Local Content Bill yet to be passed into law.
She described Ghana?s Local Content Policy and its associated Legislative Instrument as representing the best chance of not only ensuring increased Ghanaian participation in the oil and gas sector, but also,? perhaps more importantly, Ghana?s best hope of effectively integrating the sector into the rest of the national economy.
In that regard, she said, the Civil Society Platform on oil and gas was alarmed at what appeared to be subtle attempts by corporate lobbyists to undermine the passage of the Local Content Legislative Instrument that had been laid before Parliament but had to be re-laid because it did not mature during the tenure of the last Parliament.
Dr Nelson said intelligence information gathered by the Oil & Gas Platform indicated that international oil companies operating in Ghana were seeking to dilute the content of the bill in way that would deprive Ghanaians of the opportunity it offered.
She said the Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas was, therefore, of the view that the concerns raised by the international oil companies regarding certain provisions in the law were not strong enough to warrant a withdrawal of the Oil and Gas Local Content Legislative Instrument?a view also shared by the Select Committee on Subsidiary Legislation.
Accordingly, the Platform, Dr Nelson said, has urged Parliament, the Minister for Energy and the President of Ghana to resist any attempt by international oil companies to kill or dilute the country?s Local Content Legislative Instrument because diluting the law would roll back the progress so far made towards ensuring that Ghana was able to escape the resource curse trap that had befallen many an oil producing nation.
The Platform, she said, had also warned that withdraw of bill from Parliament would cost the country millions of dollars of potential revenues and employment opportunities to be accessed in contracts and procurement for the (TEN Project).
Dr Nelson-Nunoo said the concerns are several and include Article 46 (1) which states that ?A person who submits a plan, returns, report or other document and knowingly makes a false statement, commits an offence and is liable, on summary conviction to a find of less than 100,000 penalty units and not more than 250,000 penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not less than two years and not more than five years or both?.