Steve Manteaw

Policy Analyst with the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC) and Co-Chair of the Ghana Extractive Industry Transparency International, Dr. Steve Manteaw Monday urged the Ghanaian government to limit discretional usage in awarding petroleum contracts in the country.

Speaking to News Ghana at the sidelines of a workshop organized by the Institute for Financial and Economic Journalists (IFEJ) and GIZ at Akosombo in the Eastern Region on the latest petroleum agreement signed between the Ghana government and United States (US) oil giants, ExxonMobil, he emphasized the practice has been a major feature of all 17 petroleum agreements signed in the country.

Such practice, he observed, if not stopped would rob the West African country of the much needed revenue for development.

Section 10 (3) of Ghana’s Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act 919, 2016 states “A petroleum agreement shall only be entered into after an open, transparent and competitive public tender process.”

Section 10 (4) states, “Despite subsection (3), the Minister may on stated reasons decide not to enter into a petroleum agreement after the tender process as prescribed.

Furthermore, section 10 (9) of the same law stipulates that “Despite subsection (3), the Minister may, in consultation with the Commission, determine that a petroleum agreement may be entered into by direct negotiations without public tender, where direct negotiations represent the most efficient manner to achieve optimal exploration, development and production of petroleum resources in a defined area.”

The Analyst said, “The exercise of discretion by the Minister for Energy is pretty widespread, you can find these in almost all the 17 contracts we have signed so far. The Minister for Energy has sweeping discretion which for me if not properly checked and monitored can possibly lead to abuses.

Well, discretion in themselves do not have any impact on the economy but it is how they are used; they can be used for good and for the bad. When they are used in advancing national interest, the economy benefits but where they are used to advance parochial personal interest, the individual gains at the expense of the state.”

Dr. Manteaw, who is also a member of the country’s Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), a civil society group that monitors the utilization of oil revenue here called for the limitation of discretionary powers to the minister during awarding oil contracts.

“I think we need to limit the grant of discretionary powers to the minister and ensure that most of the decisions that have to be made are actually fixed in the law so that reference to the law should be adequate in determining what obligations rest on the companies,” he stated.

He further urged the Ghanaian citizenry to wake up and ensure that the exercise of discretionary powers in the extractive sector by ministers is carried out in the best interest of the country.

Ghana discovered oil in commercial quantities in 2007 and commenced production three years after. Enditem

Source: Francis Tandoh

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