Prof Asafu-Adjaye

Transparency in the oil and gas industry improved from 59.7 percent to 68.9 percent in the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA)?s P-TRAC Index.

Presenting the P-TRAC Index 2012 report, Prof. Asafo-Adjaye, a visiting research fellow of the IEA, noted that the Bank of Ghana?s continuous update with respect to information significantly improved transparency in the management of the funds.

The P-TRAC Index is to promote transparency and accountability in the management of Ghana?s oil and gas resources.

Generally, there was a marginal improvement in all other components.

Expenditure transparency recorded a slight improvement over the previous year moving from 63.9 percent to 64.8 percent.

To further enhance transparency in this area, the report recommended the provision of information on how the annual budget funding is spent besides what is reported in the annual budget statement.

?There is the need for separate publication apart from the budget statement. This will provide more details on specific projects. We are also of the view that there is the need for more stakeholder consultation on selection of priority projects for funding,? noted Prof. Asafo-Adjaye.

Contract transparency also recorded a slight movement from 66.7 percent to 68.9 percent.

According to the report, though some progress was made in the establishment of an independent authority to award contracts and licenses, there was the need to establish an open and transparent process of awarding contracts and licenses.

The overall score for revenue transparency was 69.9 percent, up from 64.3 percent in 2011.

Though improvements were made in the areas of frequency and availability of reports, the concern here was the quality of reports, it noted.

The information provided through the budget statement and published in some newspapers was fairly technical and numerical in nature.

To enhance transparency and accountability, the report called on government to expedite the passage of all the relevant bills, which include Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Bill, the Right to Information Bill and Petroleum Exploration and Production Bill.

The report also called for speedy passage of the Budget Act to enhance Parliament?s ability to conduct comprehensive analysis of the Budget.

The Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Mines and Energy, Dr. Kwabena Donkor, noted that because the media is relatively illiterate in terms of issues concerning oil and gas, it does not take interest in publicising issues affecting the sector.

He therefore urged the media to be proactive and play an active role in educating the general public on such issues.

By Frank Agyemang

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