Business News Tue, 1 Oct 2019

GNPC weakened by its own transparency laws

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Transparency laws governing national oil company, Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), has been described as weak and inconsistent.

A study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) disclosed that a broader aspect of the Corporation’s transparency regulations is limited to the public which raises issues on accountability and openness.

The GNPC is allocated close to one-third of the total petroleum revenues of Ghana which places it at the core of the country’s aspirations towards effective management of its hydrocarbon resources.

The GNPC Law (PNDC Law 64), and other statutes on transparency, oblige the Corporation to provide wide-ranging information on its operations to relevant authorities, such as the Ministry of Energy, Ministry of Finance, State Enterprise Commission (SEC), Parliament, etc.

A striking revelation from the research stated that the founding law of the Corporation, has become redundant in many parts and also falls short of satisfying the strong and fervent public demand for transparency and accountability from national oil companies in contemporary times.

Research Fellow and Economist at IFS, Leslie Mensah, in a presentation on Assessing Management of Ghana National Petroleum Corporation Revenue, explained that it is largely because GNPC is not legally mandated to make public, requisite information hence the Corporation often fails to meet deadlines.

“For example, whereas information on petroleum production, sales and revenue, and on petroleum projects is reported publicly by the Ministry of Finance in accordance with the law, information such as the Corporation’s annual work program and budget, which is submitted to Parliament, and its performance management reports, which are submitted to SEC, is not published, since there is no legal requirement to do so.”

The Economist disclosing the implication stated, “We found that with respect with the annual report, GNPC has typically not complied with the deadlines. They are required to make a report to the Ministry of Finance by the end of April each year but they have never complied with that.”

“We feel this undermines the overall transparency because the transparency we are interested in is transparency to tax payers who ultimately own the resources.”

The think-tank institution has recommended that GNPC should be proactive in reporting information broadly about its operations to the public, except for commercially sensitive information.

A timely and consistent publication, the IFS reiterated, will “enhance transparency, accountability and public confidence in GNPC.”

Source: www.ghanaweb.com