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NDC BLOWS OIL CASH ON ‘GHOST PROJECTS’

Politics

It is now emerging that about 50 per cent of the projects the previous Mahama-led National Democratic Congress government claimed to have executed in the three Northern regions with proceeds from the nation’s oil revenue in the election year of 2016 cannot be found anywhere.

It is now emerging that about 50 per cent of the projects the previous Mahama-led National Democratic Congress government claimed to have executed in the three Northern regions with proceeds from the nation’s oil revenue in the election year of 2016 cannot be found anywhere.

 

According to PIAC, inspections it carried out in the three Northern regions have confirmed the non-existence of the projects said to have funded by the oil revenue.

The previous Mahama administration stands accused of consistently flouting the Petroleum Revenue Management Act in its spending, with the worst abuse taking place in 2016, ostensibly to siphon money to support its abortive re-election bid.

For instance, the Mahama government in 2016 made expenditure in 13 areas instead of the four priority areas prescribed under the law.

Per the PRMA, out of the 13 priority areas in which government can make expenditure, it is only required to spend in four priority areas, which can be changed every three years.

However, instead of spending solely on the already selected four priority areas, namely Capacity Building, Roads and Other Infrastructure, Amortisation and Agriculture Modernisation, the then government spent in all 13 priority areas.

The 13 broad areas from which any four priority areas could be chosen every three years are, “Agric and Industry, Science and Technology, Potable water, Infrastructure Development, Social Welfare and Rural Development.

The rest are Strengthening Institutions, Housing Delivery, Health Care, Environmental Protection, Public Security and Alternative Sources.

Steve Manteaw, Chairman of PIAC, said at a press conference yesterday that PIAC was compiling a list of ‘Ghost projects’, explaining: “Six projects were inspected in the Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions; the findings and observations were overwhelming, with fifty percent of the projects being nonexistent.”

He cited example: “There was a particular case of the Duuri Dam where an amount of about GHc 58,000 was allocated for rehabilitation works. The allocation was done in 2014, but as at 2016 when we visited the project site, nothing had happened. The project was actually non-existent.”

Dr Manteaw cited more examples: “There is also the case of Nakore Dam in the Wa Central Municipality. There was the Farikiya Islamic school in Tamale. Again, when we visited, the projects were nonexistent.”

Addressing town hall meetings in the Keta and Ketu South Municipalities of the Volta Region recently, the Vice Chairman of PIAC, Kwame Jantuah, said the financial indiscipline was very worrying, particularly when the funds were spread so thinly that the impact could not be felt.

“We are very disappointed that government will do that and spend without recourse to the law, because it was an election year,” he lamented.

A report of PIAC indicates that about $3.427 billion was accrued from the petroleum revenue between 2011 and 2016, out of which about $1.473 billion was allocated to ABFA, which supports projects in the budget.

Mr Jantuah expressed dissatisfaction with the misapplication of a whopping amount of $1.473 billion, equivalent to about GH¢5.8billion.

He said, “It is very worrying because the petroleum revenue represents just four percent of government’s total revenue. It is not right to spread the meagre petroleum oil revenue thinly on plenty projects when you have been asked to spend on four specific areas, all because of politics and votes.”

For instance, “Under capacity building, you have payments for feeding cost, BECE subsidy, capitation grant, school uniforms, etc which fall mostly on education, a different priority area on its own.”

PIAC is not happy about this abuse and its Chairman, Dr Manteaw, indicated yesterday the Committee would soon call the Auditor General into action for futher investigations on, especially, the issue of ‘ghost projects’

The abuse of the oil revenue appears to be akin to what happened at the cocoa sector under the watch of the embattled former Chief Executive of the Ghana Cocoa Board, Stephen Opuni, who is now facing trial for causing financial loss to the state, among other charges.

Available information indicates that many cocoa road projects for which contracts were awarded, and payments eventually made, have been found to be nonexistent.