The Minority in Parliament has called on the government to transfer the shares held by Jubilee Oil Holding Limited (JOHL) to the Ghana National Petroleum Commission (GNPC) to assure citizens that appropriate oversight of the country’s petroleum resources is being exercised by Parliament and other stakeholders.
“This will only go a long way to ensure proper accountability and effective monitoring of the revenues accruing from our petroleum resources,” a statement signed and issued by the Minority Leader, Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, said.
The call comes on the back of the Minority’s concerns that assets of the JOHL were currently not being subjected to the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA) 2011 (Act 815) provisions nor were the revenues remitted to the Petroleum Holding Fund (PHF).
The PRMA provides regulation over how revenue from the nation’s oil and gas resources was to be managed.
“As required by the Act, revenues from the assets are accrued to or disbursed from the PHF.
The question then arises, if the JOHL asset is as valuable as reported and revenues from it are not remitted to the Petroleum Fund, where are the revenues lodged, how are they used and under which governance structure are they managed? Does the Auditor-General get to see accounts?” The statement stressed.
The Minority, therefore, accused the government of currently using the JOHL revenues as a “slush fund” to pursue all manner of business that had not been approved by Parliament under the usual GNPC budget approval process.
The statement added that 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 lent credence to their concern.
“But even more troubling is 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,” it explained.
The Minority, therefore, cautioned that such an act would lack transparency, add debt to an already debt-distressed country that was under an IMF programme and may be unconstitutional, adding that the PRMA existed to limit the government on how much “forward selling” of its oil and gas assets, it could do, so as not to mortgage off the country’s future.
Allegations of sale
The Minority also called on the GNPC to give a clear and urgent explanation of allegations that the Minister of Energy, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, under its Chairman, Freddie Blay, was working on a transaction to relinquish about 50 per cent of the shares of JOHL to PetroSA, a state-owned oil company of South Africa.
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 added.