"Oil policy risks being engulfed by partisanship"
An expert in governance at the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), Mr. E. Kojo Pumpuni Asante, has said that the country’s oil policy risks being engulfed by excessive partisanship if politics remains dominant in the award of contracts, services and allocation of resources fuelled by deep suspicion.
He observed that the continuous intensified political competition and contest between the two main leading political parties in the country would provide an unhealthy environment for policy certainty and effective implementation of the much needed national oil governance agenda.
Mr. Asante, supported by Francis Tsegah, a Career Diplomat, was delivering a lecture on “The oil find in Ghana: Avoiding the pitfalls of the Niger Delta at Cape Three Points” in Tema to an audience of professionals under the auspices of the Rotary Club of Tema.
He noted that the current state of democracy was not enough, noting that “the Ghanaian State is still personalized, institutions of restraint and executive transparency are weak and ineffective in checking abuse of power while conflict of interest and corruption still persist”
Mr. Asante was of the opinion that the trend of affairs could change for the nation to succeed in its oil find only if Ghanaians would manage the high expectations that the oil would automatically transform the lives of the ordinary citizen overnight.
He noted that over the last few years, general expectations of an economic take off had been exceptionally high as politicians continued to promise ‘heaven’ with the oil production on the horizon.
Mr. Asante stressed that there was the need to manage the high expectations of the people to avoid the Niger Delta situation in Ghana and to avert the resource curse and its devastating impact on development.
He said there were lessons to be learnt from the experience of some leaders in the oil industry because of bad governance of oil resources, citing Nigeria as a prime example.
Mr. Asante said as part of its preparation towards oil, Ghana would need a legal framework with an energy policy, petroleum and gas policy and law, revenue management policy and law and local content policy and law to avert the resource curse.
He said the country would also need a subsidiary legislation for all the three laws with an institutional arrangement of the need for a petroleum regulator, an independent revenue management board, a national oil company and a national gas company.
Mr. Asante said oil was an exhaustible resource and therefore should be treated as an asset and not an income, explaining that there was a need to use the resources generated wisely, adding that “we are looking at 20 years or less of exploration for at least the jubilee field”.
This, he noted, called for the need to maximize the funds that would accrue from the oil to the State by providing sustainable infrastructure to be managed for the future.
Mr. Asante said the country could experience a reversal of fortune rather than an additional economic fortune, if focus was shifted to oil to the neglect of other important earners such as cocoa and other agricultural products in general.
Daily Graphic Wed. March 3, 2010