Civil Society Groups call for disclosure of Oil and Gas Contracts
4/9/2012 6:31:01 PM -
Accra, April 9, GNA - The Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas has said public disclosure of all oil and gas contracts by government would remove the incentive for public officials to negotiate bad contracts on behalf of the State.
It said all draft agreements and contracts must be widely published for 30 days for the public to make input before ratification.
The Platform said as much as revenue that would accrue to the State are tied to the fiscal terms in the contract, it was important to make all contracts, primary and subsidiary, publicly disclosed.
'Such disclosure will not only remove the incentive for public officials to negotiate bad contracts on behalf of the State but also inform citizens of what to expect in terms of revenues from a particular project,' the Platform said in a briefing paper on the Implementation Challenges of the Petroleum Revenue Management Law.
The Briefing Paper said there was the need to remove the power of the Minister of Finance to withhold information and called for a detailed regulations and procedures governing citizens' right to information under the law.
The paper also called for disaggregation of all payments and adequate capacity for the Ghana Revenue Authority to be able to verify tax returns to avoid the weakness in mining being repeated in the petroleum industry.
It suggested that the Advisory Committee should make its advice binding on the Energy Minister.
Mr Bishop Akolgo, Executive Director, Integrated Social Development Centre, said citizens' vigilance would ensure that revenue from the oil and gas resources was well utilized in priority areas to speed up development.
Besides, vigilance is required to assure the citizens that the information being submitted by oil companies is accurate.
In this direction, he said, it was important to tighten regulations in the Petroleum Revenue Management Law to prevent the Minister of Finance from spending in non-priority areas.
There is also the need for a reference price and a regional or global spot price to plug the absence of a reference price for oil and gas as this determines the size of the revenue envelope.