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NDC Minority to file an urgent question on intended divestment of Ghana’s stake JOHL to PetroSA

Dr Cassiel Ato Forson
Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, Minority Leader

The Parliamentary Minority Caucus says it will file an urgent question on the floor of the House when it resumes, on the intended divestment of Ghana’s stake in Jubilee Oil Holdings Limited (JOHL) to the Petroleum Oil and Gas Corporation of South Africa (PetroSA).

Dr Cassiel Ato Baah Forson, the Minority Leader in a statement copied to the Ghana News Agency said the issue of the divestment of part of Ghana’s stake in the JOHL had been a matter of intense discussions in the media these past few days.

It said the Minority in Parliament had observed various exchanges among key Government functionaries, notably Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, the Energy Minister, and Mr Freddie Blay, the Board Chairman of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) and hereby wish to make clear its position on this important subject.

The statement said it had been alleged by the Minister of Energy, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, and that GNPC under the Chairmanship of Mr Freddie Blay were working on a transaction to relinquish about 50 per cent of the shares of JOHL to PetroSA, the state-owned oil company of South Africa.

It said this action sounds at odds with the value of the JOHL assets to the State and does not advance the interest of the Ghanaian people.

“We, therefore, call on the GNPC to give a clear and urgent explanation of the situation and what the thinking behind the happenings is,” the statement said.

“As a matter of fact, the minority will upon the resumption of Parliament file an urgent question for a clarification of this whole saga.”

It noted that, however, of far greater concern to them in the Minority was the way the JOHL assets were held and managed.

It said the JOHL assets were acquired by the Republic of Ghana and thus belong to the people of Ghana.
It reiterated that the late President John Evans Atta Mills enacted the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, 2011 (Act 815) which provided regulation over how revenue from Ghana’s oil and gas resources are to be managed.

It said as required by the Act, Revenues from the assets were accrued to or disbursed from the Petroleum Holding Fund; declaring that “it is therefore, concerning to note that the JOHL assets are not currently subject to Petroleum Management Act (PRMA) provisions nor are JOHL revenues remitted to the Petroleum Holding Fund.”

It said the question then arises, if the JOHL asset was as valuable as reported and revenues from it are not remitted to the Petroleum Fund, where were the revenues lodged, how were they used and under which governance structure were they managed? And does the Auditor-General get to see accounts?

The statement said it was their contention that the JOHL revenues were currently being used as a “slush fund” to pursue all manner of business that had not been approved by Parliament under the usual GNPC budget approval process.
It said the recent lodgment of $100 million of oil revenues in the accounts of JOHL which sparked concerns about the state being deprived of taxes accruing from those revenues lends credence to our concern.

It said however, even more troubling was the fact that the Minister references, in his letter to the Executive Secretary to the President, an attempt to try to refinance GNPC’s current debts by using JOHL’s assets to do so with LITASCO.

“We can only presume that the intent here is to forward sell JOHL’s production share to raise this money.” The statement said.

It said one of the key tenets of the PRMA was to limit the Government of the day on how much “forward selling” of its oil and gas assets, it could do, so as not to mortgage off Ghana’s future.

It noted that such an act would lack transparency, add debt to an already debt distressed country that was under an International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme and might indeed, be unconstitutional.

It said by this statement, the Minority was calling on the Government to transfer the shares held by JOHL to GNPC without delay, in order that Ghanaians could be assured that appropriate oversight was being exercised on these assets by Parliament and other stakeholders.

The statement said this would only go a long way to ensure proper accountability and effective monitoring of the revenues accruing from our petroleum resources.

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