Date: June 1, 2012, 9:26 am


Contrary to general knowledge among the Ghanaian public as well as civil society groups that the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Bill, 2010 has been withdrawn from Parliament, Mr. Inusah Fuseini, Deputy Minister of Energy, insist the Bill is still before Parliament.

Last Tuesday, Mr. Fuseini vehemently opposed suggestions that the Bill had been withdrawn, arguing that, technically the Minister of Energy is supposed to file a motion to seek the leave of the House to withdraw the Bill but “no such step has been taken by the Minister.” But he confessed that there is no plan to pass the Bill in its current form and that a new bill, replacing the current one, will be laid before Parliament in due course.

The Deputy Minister, who chaired the launch of a special publication by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in Accra, informed the gathering that despite plans to replace the Bill, the Ministry has not taken the step to withdraw the Bill because such withdrawal would create the impression that nothing was being done about the law.

Therefore, the plan is to simultaneously withdraw the bill and replace it with the new one once that one was completed. He indicated that a new Bill would largely be without provisions on regulations which are not provided for under the Petroleum Commission Act, which was passed last June to establish the Petroleum Commission as a body corporate with perpetual succession to regulate, monitor and manage the activities and utilisation of petroleum resources.

One of the people who were dumbfounded by Mr Fuseini’s submissions was Mr Mohammed Amin Adam, an extractive sector expert with Ibis Ghana. He told Public Agenda that news of the Bill still being before Parliament was surprising because “we didn’t know, seriously.”  On November 13, 2010, the state-owned Daily Graphic reported the Majority Leader, Mr. Cletus Avoka, as hinting that the Bill, which had been referred to the Joint Committee of Finance and Mines and Energy Committee of the House, was to be withdrawn and repackaged.

He said the Bill would be relaid after it had been repackaged for consideration, according to the paper. When it becomes law, the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act, will replace the PNDC Law 84 which is the current law under which petroleum exploration and production activities are undertaken.

IEA on oil

Meanwhile, a publication by the IEA has raised fresh fears about Ghana experiencing the undesirable ‘Dutch Disease.’ The publication, termed the ‘Ghana Policy Journal’, also raises questions about the separation of the commercial and regulatory functions of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) through the enactment of the Petroleum Commission law.

The fourth volume of the publication, launched last Tuesday, is devoted to the oil and gas sector under the title “Ghana’s Petroleum Industry: The Prospects and Potential Impediments Towards Good Governance Standards.”

Contributors to the publication include Prof Joe Amoaku-Tuffour, Tax Policy Adviser at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning; Ms Joyce Owusu-Ayim, Economist, German Technical Corporation; Prof John Asafu-Adjaye, Senior Fellow at IEA; Messrs Patrick Heller and Antoine Heuty, Revenue Watch Institute.

Others are Ms Ama Jantuah Banful, Chief State Attorney, Attorney General’s Department; Prof Kwamena Panford, Northeastern University, Boston, M.A., USA; Dr Steve Manteaw, Campaigns Coordinator, ISODEC; Prof. Ken Attafuah, Executive Director, The Justice & Human Rights Institute; and Dr Moses Mensah, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.

Source: Public Agenda

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