Story by: Gilbert Borketey Boyefio
The Minority Caucus in Ghana’s Parliament has laid claim to the country’s successes in the oil and gas sector, pointing to a recent report by the Natural Resource Governance Institute that scored Ghana 67 of 100 points in the 2017 Resource Governance Index (RGI) to buttress their point.
According to them, “It is not surprising that, the global index assessing 81 countries in oversight has established that Ghana’s oil and gas sector is the best governed in Sub-Saharan Africa.”
This they attributed to a robust regulatory regime in the oil and gas sector, and the establishment of strong institutions and good governance to encourage investments by their party while in power.
The Petroleum Revenue Management Act 2011, which ensures transparency in revenue management with the oversight responsibility by the citizenry through the Public Interest Accountability Committee (PIAC), the establishment of the Petroleum Commission as the independent upstream regulator through the Petroleum Commission Act 821, the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act 2016 (Act 919), and the Petroleum (Local Content and Participation) law LI 2204, were among the most significant industry laws passed during the tenure of the erstwhile NDC Government (to which the Minority Caucus belongs).
Taking notice of the country’s preparation to celebrate the first oil from the Cape Three Point fields to be commissioned by H.E President Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, the Minority Caucus choose to congratulate former President John Dramani Mahama, for a yeoman’s job.
The Minority Caucus during a press conference in parliament today also noted with concern an announcement by the ruling Government to the effect that it intends to issue a 15 year Bond to settle what it describes as “outstanding debts in the energy sector”.
“It will be recalled that in an effort to deal with the perennial debt confronting the Energy sector SOEs the NDC Government introduced the Energy Sector Levy Act 2015 (Act 899) which was meant to consolidate all the existing levies into a properly structured revenue stream flow to deal with the debt stock in a comprehensive manner.
Consequently, the NDC government through then Minister for Finance, Hon. Seth Terkper, took appropriate steps to restructure the debt owed by the Power Sector Industry players which resulted in a renegotiation of outstanding obligations. This led to the affected banks cutting their interest rates for both the Cedi and Dollar components. This move culminated in a payment plan which was agreed upon by the various shareholders.
Based on detailed analyses conducted taking into account the upfront payment made, the entire debt stock was scheduled to be amortized over a period of 3 to 5 years. The NDC Government further made provision for sunset clauses which was aimed at terminating the levies upon completion of payment within the stipulated period.
It is therefore shocking, astonishing and beats our imagination to hear of the NPP Government planning to extend the repayment period over a 15 year period, through what they describe as Energy Sector Bonds. This is certainly unacceptable as it is completely at variance with the intended repayment time period of a maximum of 5 years,” the Minority stated.
They wondered how the current government has capitulated and seeking to burden Ghanaians with a 15 year payment period, noting that, “This singular act will span almost 4 successive Governments and Parliaments. How can an arrangement meant to liquidate a loan over 5 years in the previous administration metamorphose into 15 years under this administration?”
They have consequently served notice that they will oppose the measure and should the majority use its numbers to have its way “we shall review this decision, God willing, upon assumption of office on January 7, 2021”.