The Chamber of Petroleum Consumers, Ghana (COPEC-GH) has called on the government to immediately stop the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) from spending over GH¢2 million on sponsoring some private individuals and institutions.
An internal memo sighted by Citi News showed that GNPC had approved the said amount as well as another $30,000 as part of GNPC’s Corporate Social Investment with various sums to be given to the First Lady’s Foundation, Rebecca Foundation; The Ghana Journalists Association, and the celebration of the Okyenhene’s 20th Anniversary.
Some of the items budgeted for by the GNPC include GH¢400,000 towards the preparations for the Damba Festival and GH¢500,000 towards Okyenhene’s anniversary and greening environment project.
Others include GH¢50,000 for the Ghana Journalists Association and US$30,000 for the Ghana Boxing Association.
This planned spending by the Corporation received several backlashes from organizations such as Public Interest and Accountability Corporation (PIAC), Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), and now COPEC.
Executive Secretary of COPEC Duncan Amoah in a statement argued that the said spending should be halted “to restore the needed confidence by the poor taxpayer who is squeezed every now and then to generate these revenues the government needs”.
He also urged government to probe the processes that led to the approval of the said amount.
He further asked the government to “take immediate action and sanctions against the Management and the Board of Directors of GNPC and to further take steps to consolidate all resources being held in trust by the corporation to forestall any further wanton dissipation of same as has been the case over the years with GNPC”.
Read the full statement below:
The poor Ghanaian taxpayer is once again confronted with another clear case of wanton dissipation of the scarce nation’s resources by highly placed persons within the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) which sharply contrasts Government’s earlier reason for increasing fuel taxes as it insisted we needed revenue yet some in same breath squandering the little available without any solid justification.
Chamber of Petroleum Consumers Ghana (COPEC-GH) has taken notice of an internal Memorandum dated 29th October 2019 from the Board Secretary under the Signature of one Matilda Ohene to the Chief Executive of the Ghana National Petroleum (GNPC) on the subject titled “Board Approval for payment of various sponsorship /Support Requests”.
The said memo indicates the granting of approvals to some supposed requests received with some stated amounts as indicated below:
2019 Damba Festival Preparation- Dagbon State- GHS400,000.00
20th Anniversary of Okyenhene – GHS500,000.00 over three years totaling (GHS1,500,000.00) for the environment and greening.
II: GHS300,000.00 for organization of 20th Anniversary celebrations of Okyenhene
Ghana Journalists Association – GHS50,000.00
Ghana Boxing Association – US$30,000.00
Rebecca Foundation – GHS120,000.00
EOCO – GHS550,000.00
Our initial reaction was that of disbelief but the said memo has been confirmed by the manager for the sustainability of the GNPC with a justification that these are quite normal applications of the scarce resources been held in trust for Ghanaians by the corporation.
To this we call on the Government to immediately halt, and investigate the processes leading to wanton dissipation of these monies as contained in the memo, and to further take immediate action and sanctions against the Management and the Board of Directors of GNPC and to further take steps to consolidate all resources being held in trust by the corporation to forestall any further wanton dissipation of same as has been the case over the years with GNPC.
This abuse of resources being held in trust by these corporations at a time the Central Government seems to be in dire need of revenues for its developmental projects cannot be overemphasized and will need to be halted immediately to restore the needed confidence by the poor taxpayer who is squeezed every now and then to generate these revenues the government needs.
The priorities of GNPC should be going forward clearly defined by legislation as the Corporation seems to be gaining notoriety for such acts which usually contravenes the posture of the State and Central Government within the economic context prevailing in Ghana.
For the avoidance of doubt we also seek clarity on the following:
Does the Act and laws governing the operations of GNPC permit GNPC to on its own now finance and compromise other state investigate bodies such as EOCO who are expected to hold persons at the top of such corporations to account in the event of abuse of resources?
These state investigative Agencies such as EOCO who currently are expected to be investigating the board chairman of the very same GNPC and all other potential corrupt practices in such public corporations also enjoys government budgetary allocation and funding and as such could attract private support but another huge state funding by GNPC leaves a lot to be desired and confusion in the minds of right-thinking society especially at the time EOCO is expected to investigate some highly placed officials of the said corporation.
Further, does such funding provision for Chieftaincy affairs in the country not constitute a pick and choose agenda which can lead to needless tensions and suspicions knowing very well how delicate the institution of chieftaincy is to ethnic and social matters as already, the chiefs and people of the Western Region of Ghana, where a larger chunk of our oil resources are extracted from are on record to have demanded a percentage share of the oil find but have till date not been given any, neither their roads fixed nor infrastructure improved by the oil money yet GNPC in an apparent show of some perceived biases is sponsoring other traditional areas in Northern and Eastern Regions of the Country by way of festivals and to also go green?
Will GNPC be in a position to grant all the traditional authorities the same or similar funding upon request? if no, what justification will they provide for declining in the event all other traditional authorities now decide to seek their share of the oil cake?
Dispensing such amounts to individuals and private organizations will surely have a certain effect on the economy and central government funding as these monies could have been easily channelled to other very important needs such as social amenities provision in deprived communities to ease the pressures on the central government.
The absence of funding to undertake these development projects often force the central government to now resort to imposing heavier taxes which has often lead to increases in fuel prices at the pumps in the petroleum industry.
We believe that the public funds in the care of GNPC should be prudently invested and managed in building a robust upstream petroleum sector such that GNPC can in the very near future hold and maintain some of our oil wells without any foreign oil company taking a larger chunk of the shares of our own resources. And to complement in defraying incessant debts in the energy sector and ultimately relieve ordinary Ghanaians off these huge tax burdens as prevailing today.
We lastly note with deep concerns, that, this rather headless financial decision by the Board of GNPC to among other things, pay funds to EOCO which already enjoys government budgetary allocation could potentially compromise the investigative responsibilities of the state institution and further open the floodgates for all other traditional authorities within the country to also seek their share of the oil money and must be halted immediately forthwith.