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15 October 2016

Gov’t is not deliberately starving PIAC of funds – William Ahadzi

ahadzieThe Director of Research of the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) says government is not deliberately denying the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) funds for its operations because of its watchdog role.

Dr William Ahadzi says PIAC is facing the same financial challenges other state institutions go through yearly in the hands of government.

Speaking on the Joy FM’s Ghana Connect programme held at the University of Professional Studies, Accra Friday, the former Executive Secretary of the National Identification Authority (NIA) said the NDC government is committed to transparency in the use of oil revenue in the country.

PIAC has indicated in 2011 that its activities are threatened because of financial constraint. As a result, the body said it has become difficult if not impossible for them to undertake its activities as mandated.

It was created by the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, PRMA (Act 815) to oversee Ghana’s oil and gas sector. The law mandates the body in section 53 (1) to;

(a) Consult widely on best practice related to management and use of petroleum revenues; and

(b) Determine the rules of procedure under which it will operate.

(2) The Accountability Committee shall have its own secretariat that will facilitate the performance of its functions

The committee has executed its roles and has courted the displeasure of some government functionaries. In July 2016, Chairman of the Committee, Professor Paul Kingsley Buah-Bassuah decried government’s lack of documentation in its use of the oil money.

After inspecting a project in the Upper East Region, Prof Buah-Bassuah said: “It came to light during a visit to the Zebilla Senior High Technical School in the Bawku West District in the Upper East Region of Ghana, that school authorities, as well as some officials in the District Assembly, had no idea that the construction of a two-storey dormitory for the school was being funded by oil revenues.”

Although it has been given an independent oversight responsibility over the management of petroleum revenues, PIAC has since its inception faced financial challenges, a situation which has weakened the resolve of Committee members.

Many political commentators had said the Committee was being punished because of the stern manner it scrutinizes government spending of oil revenues but Dr Ahadzi holds a contrary view.

He said like many other institutions competing for limited funds, PIAC is facing the same financial challenges.

As far as oil revenue and expenditure are concerned, the NDC functionary said government has put in place the requisite measures to ensure transparency in what the money is used for.

“We set up the Ghana Infrastructure Fund (GIF) and the Heritage fund which essentially define what we put the oil revenue into,” he said.

Source: Myjoyonline.com

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