Set up oil fund, Govt advised
Kwadwo Asenso-Okyere, former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana and currently the Director of the International Service for National Agricultural Research, has advocated for pragmatic and sustainable measures to be put in place to ensure that Ghana's oil find benefits every Ghanaian now and for generations to come.
He has, therefore, suggested that the revenue that will be accrued from the oil should be judiciously invested in all the sectors of the economy particularly agriculture to ensure that the funds are not squandered.
This, the erudite scholar opined, could be done by creating a separate national account or a trust fund where proceeds of the oil would be kept to undertake development projects across the country. Nigeria has a Petroleum Trust Fund.
Prof Asenso-Okyere further called for the necessary precautions to be taken to ensure the oil find does not become a curse rather than a blessing, as evidenced by on going conflicts on the African continent.
Speaking at the 2008 Ghana Speaks Lectures series organised by The Institute of Democratic Governance in partnership with Joy FM, under the theme "Living at the expense of future generation: innovating sustainable development," Prof Asenso-Okyere noted that although Nigeria is one of the world"s leading producers of oil, it is also one of the poorest countries in the world.
This situation he attributed to the over reliance on oil by the Nigerian authorities to the deterioration of the other sectors of the economy. He explained that if too much attention is focused on the oil sector it would weakened the other sectors of the economy.
He observed that if appropriate measures are taken concerning the oil discovery Ghana can avoid the Niger Delta Region conflict situation, and hence advised that "although the fishermen fishing near the oil exploration plant have to be restricted from doing so, tact have to be used."
The former Vice-Chancellor said oil rich countries which do not have strong constitutions tend to be unstable.
Prof Asenso-Okyere was of the view that poverty begets poverty and unless social protection programmes are built into development strategies to assist the poor and vulnerable, there will be recycling of poverty from one generation to the other.
He said the current generation is expected to take custody of resources of the world for their judicious use, as well as preservation and accumulation for future generations.
"However, due to greed, insatiable and carelessness consumption and blatant disregard for the needs of the yet unborn, the survival of future generations is being threatened by the present generation," he pointed out, adding that "the lack of strategies to ensure that renewable resources are sustainably exploited is disturbing."
According to Prof Asenso-Okyere, the need to find new sources of energy is gradually leading to food scarcity. He said more lands are being earmarked for cultivation of bio-fuel excessive consumption of non-renewable resources like fossil fuel leaves very little for future generations.
He said agricultural productivity continues to decline in the absence of effective afforestation and soil fertility management programmes. "The survival of humans, animals, and plants are under serious threat because we are depleting our natural resources through mismanagement," he added.
Prof Asenso-Okyere further observed that the overall effect is that there is inadequate preparation towards combating the effects of these threats to the existence of humanity.
He said the challenges that face the nation call for a new look at consumption and production strategies to be able to adapt and mitigate their effects and conserve the livelihood of future generations. He noted that it is important to remove the threat to human livelihood using technological and practical as well as institutional, organisational and methodological innovations.
The Ghana Speaks lectures was launched by IDEG in 2007 in collaboration with Joy FM, to promote informed discussions on critical issues affecting national development, peace, stability and democracy.
The lectures are delivered quarterly by eminent Ghanaians with track record in public service at national and international level. This year's lectures which coincided with an election year are expected to raise informed materials for political parties to rely on for their manifesto.