THE people of Brong Ahafo fear that revenue from the country’s oil find might not trickle down to improve the lives of the poor.
Citing the Nigerian example as a case in point, the people said corruption,
mismanagement and communal conflicts had bedeviled the oils sector in Africa.
These sentiments were expressed at a forum in Sunyani on Wednesday on Ghana’s oil find and the management of the revenues from it.
A team of experts was led by Dr. Joe Amoako-Tuffour, advisor at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and officials of the Ghana National Petroleum corporation (GNPC).
However, a principal Geophysicist from the GNPC, Richard Addo Darko reiterated the enormous benefits Ghana stood to gain from the oil and gas exploration.
He said that 280,000.000 barrels-plus of oil of oil were expected to be produced during the first phase of the exploration. There will be reserves of 800,000,000 barrels of oil with an upside of 1.5 billion barrels of oil which will be made up of light sweet crude which is very much sought for on the market.
He said Government would initiate continuous training and skills transfer and create a register or association for capable professionals and craftsmen, he said.
“This would create a 90% employment of Ghanaians across the industry by 2010”, adding that “natural gas, when produced, would also drive the economic development of the country.”
The principal geophisicist said the economic benefits to be accrued from the oil and gas exploration were enormous. judging from the direct, related, induced and indirect jobs to be generated in the national economy as a result of local purchases from the firms directly dependent upon the oil operations.
He, therefore, appealed to Ghanaian students to position themselves by undertaking direct courses related to this field as it would be mandatory to employ local but competent people who would meet the international standards while in operation.
On the use and management of oil and gas revenues, Amoako-Tuffour said that oil alone could contribute about one trillion dollars towards the development of the economy.
“There is big money in oil and gas compared to the size of the economy,” he noted.
Meanwhile, due to uncertainties about price and extraction in the sector, there was the need for a management law to regulate revenue use, spending and saving, to protect oil and gas revenues from abuse.
Dr Amoalo-Tuffour stressed that without revenue management law, there would be chaos as is happening in other oil producing countries.
He proposed that revenues from oil sales should be deposited into a special account – the Ghana Petroleum Account while all other revenues go into government coffers.
Dr Tuffour advised government to plan well in the management and use of revenue from the oil and gas since “money spent in a hurry is often accompanied by massive waste, corruption and poor accountability.”
“There should be no cash distribution to citizens. Rather, it should be used collectively for the good of all, by providing for public safety, security, promoting culture, enforing law and order in institutions, developing human capital and concentrating on energy and health,” he added.
Participants were drawn from Ministries, Departments and Agencies.