An expert has attributed the lack of a clear national vision to the little impact Ghana?s natural resources have had on the country?s growth and development.
Steve Manteaw (Ph D), Chairman of the Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas, therefore says the country needs a clearly articulated vision on the role natural resources have to play in economic development.
He said these while delivering a report on ?Citizens? Demand for Accountability in Ghana?s Oil and Gas Sector? organized by policy think tank, IMANI Ghana, with support from Oxfam, an international development Non-governmental Organization (NGO).
After four full years of oil production, Ghanaians are beginning to seek answers as to what the impact of the oil production has been on the general economy.
According to the expert, sector-by sector analysis has shown that the portion of petroleum revenue in the national budget – Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) – has been spread so thinly that it can hardly impact a drastic change in any of the beneficiary sectors.
?The inability of natural resource-rich countries, especially in our part of the world, to unleash the development potentials of their natural resources is largely on account of three factors,? Manteaw, also co-chair of the Ghana Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (GHEITI), noted.
The first reason, he said, was the poor articulation of the national vision in terms of what role the resource is expected to play in the rest of the national economy.
?For this reason, most of our natural resources have become an enclave on their own and not linked to the rest of the national economy,? Manteaw stated.
Additionally, he said the poor sequencing of the governance instrument for managing natural resources was a contributing factor.
He used the case of the mining sector, where the country passed the Minerals and Mining Act, Act 703, before contemplating a mining policy.
?You will agree with me that that is an aberration of the order of things. First, you have to have the national policy and the law only comes in to operationalize the policy,? he argued.
Manteaw named the third factor accounting for Ghana?s inability to unleash the full potential of its natural resources as the poor monitoring of expenditures of revenue from these natural resources.
Presenting the report, Kofi Boahen, Research Officer and Deputy Business Lead at IMANI, disclosed that over the past four years, the percentage expenditure from petroleum revenue on the health sector constituted 0.02 percent of total ABFA allocations of 1.8 billion Ghana cedis or 486.4 million U.S. dollars.
Infrastructure, as a priority area, received 56 percent of total ABFA spending over the four years (2011-2014), while the agriculture sector received 14.41 percent, and education got 1.49 percent of total spending over the four-year period.
The Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA) restricts expenditure from ABFA to four areas of amortization of loans, Infrastructure development, agriculture modernization, and capacity building.
In a comment, NICO VAN Staalduinen, Executive Director of European Business Organization in Ghana (EBO-Ghana), cautioned that, as a developing country, people should be considerate in their expectations of performance.