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GNPC Is Being Mismanaged … PIAC says Ghana Risks Going HIPC   
 
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18-Feb-2019  
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Dr Emmanuel Stephen Manteaw
 
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Even before the current impasse between the Board Chairman of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Freddie Blay, and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr K.K. Sarpong, is settled, Dr. Steve Manteaw, Chairman of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), has dropped another bombshell.

The PIAC Chair is accusing the government of using the GNPC as a shadow puppetry, which could land Ghana into the Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPIC) category in future, if the corporation is not depoliticised and managed well for the common good of Ghanaians.

He argued that today, the state petroleum corporation has become a shadow puppet, and anything the government cannot finance is funded by the GNPC in negation of its core mandate, hence, the need to pay attention to all these issues, else “we will produce oil just like we did with gold and become HIPIC.”

The occasion was the Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GHEITI) stakeholders engagement on mining, oil/gas and commodity trading reports in Kumasi, which discussed the findings and recommendations of the 2015/16 Ghana Extractive Transparency Initiative (EITI) and oil/gas reports, and the Ghana Commodity Trading Pilot Report.

Dr. Manteaw, who is the Co-Chair of GHEITI and also Chairman of the PIAC, noted: “In recent days, we have seen leakages of internal memos and fighting at GNPC, and these developments are being picked by the international community, thus, the EITI Board, Secretariat are creating a perception about Ghana and how we are managing our oil.”

In his presentation, which was on the Concept, Principles, Criteria of EITI process and Ghana’s progress so far, he painted a horrible picture which could befall Ghana, emphasising that in most OPEC countries, the national oil companies tend to be abused.

“In fact, sometimes they determine who wins the elections. They can use their resources to finance [a] political party, and we are bound to see that in Ghana very soon.”

He further said: “Let me draw your attention to the fact that the GNPC Foundation is now going to be managed by a political party person –a former Youth Organiser of NPP, and that should create some worry for you.

“This is not the way to treat the national oil company and the international community is getting worried.”

Chairman Manteaw bemoaned that it is not the way to treat a national oil company, and that the international community is getting worried. He maintained that the GNPC was established for a purpose – to explore for oil/gas.

In an interview with the media, he explained that in an EITI international validation carried out in 2016, Ghana failed to make the ultimate mark of satisfactory progress. This is largely on account of issues related to GNPC, and how those entities conduct their operations.

Expressing misgivings about the way and manner processes are being schematised at the GNPC, Mr. Manteaw asserted: “In fact, previous governments have also done same at the GNPC, but it looks like, under this particular government, the whole problem, in terms of politicisation of a national commercial entity as strategic as GNPC, has been compounded under this government, to the extent that in some respects it appears to me that GNPC is being treated as [an] extension of the NPP bureaucracy, where we have the party Chairman chairing the board, and through the instrumentation of this party Chairman, appointing a former deputy Youth Organiser of the party as the CEO of [the] GNPC Foundation.

Mr. Manteaw opined that this development is sending wrong signals, in terms of the expectations of the international community to de-poiticise GNPC and allow it to operate as a pure commercial entity.

In what could be equated as predicting doomsday ahead of Ghana, the PIAC authority mentioned: “My particular worry is that if Ghanaians are not careful in the 2020 elections, we will see a lot of quasi-expenditures being undertaken by GNPC through its Foundation, all onstensibly to influence the outcome of 2020 elections. That, for me, is a big worry.”

Asked about the advantages the ordinary Ghanaian will rake from Ghana’s oil discovery, he replied: “We should recognise the fact that we established GNPC for a purpose – to represent Ghana’s commercial interests in oil production.”

According to a worried Mr. Manteaw, as a commercial entity, the GNPC is expected to make profit and pay dividends to the state, emphasising that in an event where the GNPC moves away from its core mandate of exploring for oil, and even getting into the production of oil, into doing financing fiscal expenditures – expenditures that are the liability or responsibility of the government to finance through the budget – then I am worried that if we are not careful, Ghana will not reap the full benefits of its discovery of oil in commercial quantity.

“A lot of it would be squandered through the GNPC, and the abusing that we are seeing now in that company.”

In an address, which was read on behalf of the deputy Ashanti Regional Minister, Mrs. Elizabeth Agyemang, she noted there was the need to make revenue widely available to empower the public to hold both companies and the government accountable.

She said Ghana, by signing on to the Extractive Transparency Initiative (EITI), had heeded the call that transparent and accountable management of extractive resources could make the difference.

The stakeholders’ workshop was aimed at discussing the findings and recommendations of the 2015/2016 reports, which have been produced, to make revenue information on the extractive sector available to the public.

The deputy Minister said, the government would continue to support the Ghana EITI process to provide regular information on all revenues received from the extractive sector in mining and oil/gas.

She stated the effectiveness of the EITI requires critical discussions, evaluation and interpretation of the report by key stakeholders, adding that it was through awareness creation among stakeholders that the maximum benefit would be derived from these publications.
 
 
Source: The Chronicle
 
 

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