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27.11.2010 Feature Article

Who really benefits from the oil in Ghana: Dr. Kwame Osei

Who really benefits from the oil in Ghana: Dr. Kwame Osei
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This is a legitimate question to raise in the light of information contained in the budget that informs Ghanaians that the government will be raking in only GHS584 million from the oil find. This represents only 2% of national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 2011.

This is in stark contrast to the oil companies like the Anglo-Irish firm Tullow Oil who will rake in up to a massive US$3 billion in 2011.

Ghana will start to produce oil in commercial quantities by the year's end and there are high expectations from many in Ghanaian society that oil will be a blessing to the country.

However given the above scenario will the oil really be a blessing for Ghana? it is totally unacceptable that Ghana where the oil will be drilled from will only be receiving far less than US$500 million in 2011 as revenue from the Black gold whereas the foreign owned multi-national companies like America's Kosmos Energy and the Anglo-Irish Tullow oil will be getting in excess of up to US$3bn each – hence Kosmos Energy's desire not to sell their stake in the Jubilee oil fields to GNPC.

What this shows is that it is not Ghana that will benefit from the oil find on its shores but as usual the colonialist in the form of Kosmos Energy and Tullow oil and the economies of America and the UK (in the form of tax receipts and royalties) that will be the main beneficiaries of the Black gold.

For me it is another form of economic enslavement when a country like Ghana cannot acquire the maximum benefit from the raw materials in its duristriction and this should serve as a further reminder of the fact that we are not free as a people to determine the course of our destiny.

GHS584 million in oil income in 2011 for me in my humble opinion is not a good return on our natural resources that really should be used to feed the economy of Ghana and not feed somebody else's economy.

With oil prices set to go above US$90 a barrel next year, this represents a bad deal for the government and by extension the people of Ghana and it seems that our leadership have not learnt the lessons from the mining industry that has seen the mining companies, some of whom do not pay any taxes to the government of Ghana, walk away with billions of dollars in profits where the communities from which they mine the gold remain in absolute squalor.

If we are serious as a nation of moving forward and providing our citizens with first class transport infrastructure including high speed rail links between all the major cities of this country, if we are to provide portable, safe drinking water for ALL our people, if we are to provide quality affordable housing to ease the housing deficit, if we are to provide sustainable and reliable sources of electricity and other core social provisions in health and education, then it is imperative that we maximize our ability to get the best returns on our natural resources and urge the government and future governments to have an annual review of the rate of return that we are getting from the oil – otherwise the discovery of oil on our shores would have been in vain.

The above should serve as a serious warning to those Ghanaians who have been hoodwinked by the hearsay and hype that the oil find will radically change their lives and the fortunes of the country generally.

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