Ghanaians are calling on the government to make amendments to the Petroleum Revenue Management Act that will give the Public Interest and Accountability Committee prosecutorial powers to haul corrupt officials from both public and private institutions before court when they are found to have misapplied or stolen oil funds.

This came to Light at public forum held at Adansi Fomena and Mamponteng in the Ashanti Regions.

A high level team from PIAC and the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists led by Dr Steve Manteaw visited the Bekwai and Kwabre East Municipal Assemblies in the shanti Region to inspect ongoing projects that are being funded with oil money.

The team had a shock when it realized that the projects were either abandoned or uncompleted due to shortage of Funds.

Projects visited include the Rehabilitation of the Obogu Ofoase Gyadem Bodwesango Adansi Asokwa Road , The Fomena Town Roads, Antoa Tikrom and others ,a six unit classroom block at Aboaso Islamic Call Primary School and the Mamponteng Market Complex. The Obogu Ofoase Gyadem Bodwesango Adansi Asokwa road construction is underway. The project has delayed for many years but the contractor M/S CYMAIN believed that the entire 64 Kilometer road project would be completed by December 2017. He said the project delayed because government failed to release funds on Time. Besides continues rainfall and other issues like valuation contributed to the delay. According to him work done is over 50%.

However, it was observed that the six unit classroom block at Aboaso Islamic Primary School has been successfully completed, but the Patron of the School said they were not aware that oil revenue was used to construct the School. Mallam Abubakre said “When they came to construct the school they told us that the Money is coming from the Ghana Education Trust Fund. We did not know that it is oil Money . Now you are telling us and what can we say.”

It was realized that a sum of GHC4Million was released as part payment for the construction of the Mamponteng Jubilee Market in 2012. The project is currently at standstill due to the inability of government to release the remaining GHC4million to complete the project. Six years after abandoning the project, the cost has jumped to GHC24Million cedis

The Fomena Town Roads were completed somewhere 2016 and the oil revenue was released in 2015 to pay outstanding debts owed the contractor.

The Municipal Health Director at the Bekwai Municipality Cletus Opoku Amankwa in a statement said, we must go beyond road inspection and get the actual contracts to compare and contrast and if we find anybody to have misapplied the money, that person must be prosecuted and the money retrieved. PIAC should not only engaged in monitoring and assessment alone, it must have the power to prosecute the offenders. These people are enemies of the state and must be punished to serve as a deterrent to others “he stated.

A representative of the Ministry of Agric in the Municipality Mr Bernard Acheampong wondered why PIAC would wait for the projects to be done and messed up it goes round to inspect them.” We expect the involvement of PIAC in project commencement to completion. We as stakeholders in the district must be involved to facilitate monitoring and compliance to ensure that the right thing is done”.

The Omanhene of Adansi Fomena, Nana Pagyakotwere Bonsra Afriyie the second in a meeting with the Team was sad that the state could pay huge sums of money to contractors to undertake projects which had already been done. He stated that since he assumed the throne he has not experienced implementation of new projects in the area and wondered where the projects being inspected were. He therefore called on government to undertake a value for money audit of all the projects to ascertain the truth as to whether the money was really used for the projects. He said PIAC be giving power to bite and haul people to court for abusing the oil revenue.

The Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) was established under Section 51 of the PRMA, to among others, monitor and evaluate compliance with the Act.As a statutory institution committed to ensuring efficient, transparent and accountable management of petroleum revenues and investments, the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) lacks the legal wherewithal to prosecute people who misappropriate Ghana’s oil revenue allocations.This in their estimation could empower PIAC to fully fulfill its mandate of ensuring the efficient management of the nation’s petroleum revenues for sustainable development.

By Adu Koranteng