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Ghana to have beneficial ownership register by end of year

By
Belinda Ayamgha, GNA

Accra, July 21, GNA –
Mr Mohammed Amin Adam, a Deputy Minister of Energy, says Ghana will by the end
of 2017, have an open register of contracts in the extractive sector as well as
an online data repository.

Speaking on a panel at
a session on Open Contracting in the Extractive industries at the 2nd Africa
Open Data Conference, held in Accra from July 17 to 21, Mr Adam said the
Government was serious about the commitments it made when President Akufo Addo
attended the Anti-Corruption Summit.

Key among the
commitments, which could impact the extractive sector, are the legislation for
the disclosure of beneficial ownership information and ensuring contract and
fiscal transparency.

He stated that while
Ghana was not able to get clauses on disclosure of beneficial ownership into
the Petroleum Exploration and Production Bill before it was passed in August
2016, the Government would include provisions for beneficial ownership
disclosure in the regulations for the implementation of the Law.

He said the amendment
to the Companies’ Code, however, had taken ‘serious note’ of the need for
beneficial ownership to be legislated, although though the last draft required
the establishment of a beneficial ownership register, did not allow the
register to be made open to the public.

“I will like to assure
you that I have been part of meetings chaired by the Vice President of the
country, in which he is demanding a review of those amendments to allow for the
register to be made public,” he stated.

Mr Adam also
reiterated the Government’s commitment to open and competitive tendering and
contracting as well as ensuring value for money.

He said a petroleum
register will be established where all contracts will be published.

This, he said, would
consolidate the publication of the contracts and ensure citizens had access to
the full text and other data in the contract.

Dr Steve Manteaw, a
Senior Researcher at ISODEC, said civil society organisations and the public
still did not have full disclosure benefits and urged the Government to commit
to opening up their work and information to the public.

“CSOs are doing the
best they can but we need the Government to open up its processes,” he stated.

The second AODC opened
in Accra on Monday on the theme: “Open Data for Sustainable Development in
Africa” with more than 600 participants.

The five-day
conference kicked off on Monday with sector-specific site visits, aimed at
setting the tone for the week’s discussions.

The site visits were
hosted by civic and tech hubs including, Penplusbytes, Mobile Web Ghana,
Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology, iSpace, Impact Hub Accra and
the Kofi Annan ICT Centre.

Hosted by the Ministry
of Communications and the National Information Technology Agency (NITA), the conference
sessions explored open data related topics in Extractives, Agriculture, media,
governance, gender and education, among others.

President Nana Addo
Dankwa Akufo- Addo and Mrs Ursula Owusu Ekuful, Minister of Communications,
gave the keynote address and official welcoming remarks respectively, on
Thursday.

The Agriculture
Ministry addressed the issues related to implementing open data policies in the
sector.

GNA

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