Debates of 28 Jan 2016

Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:05 p.m.
Thank you very much.
Any seconder? Yes, Hon Member?
Alhaji Ibrahim D. Abubakari (NDC -- Salaga South) 12:10 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. In so doing, I just want

to highlight one important issue in the Report, which the House would have to consider. It is on page 8 of the Report, which is, transfers into the Stabilisation and the Heritage Funds.

Mr Speaker, going through the Report, one would realise that the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, section 23 provides how transfers should be done into these two accounts, that is, the Stabilisation and Heritage Funds -- section 23 (1) (a) of the Act.

However, the Ministry of Finance decided to do the transfer based on the interpretation of the section 9 of the Act. There seems to be a problem here, which I think the House should look at. This happened in 2012. In 2011, the transfer, according to the Report, was US$54,805,351 to the Stabilisation Fund and US$16,883,547 to the Heritage Fund. However, in 2012, the US$54,805,351 was reduced to


The US$14,400,000 for the Heritage Fund was also reduced to US$7,235,806, which is almost 50 per cent. That is very drastic due to the interpretation given by section 23 of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA), which we think, should be used to do the transfers. However, the Ministry of Finance thinks that section 9 of that Act should be based on the transfers into these accounts.

Mr Speaker, we therefore, recommend that there is the need to reconcile and the House should know that this is very important. Otherwise, the transfers could be either understated or not getting the right amount that should go into these major accounts.

This is one important issue I wanted to highlight, so that the House would consider it and make a very strong recommendation to reconcile these two provisions in the Petroleum Revenue Management Act.

Mr Speaker, with these few words, I urge Hon Members to support the Motion.

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Question proposed.
Mr David Oppon-Kusi (NPP -- Ofoase/ Ayirebi) 12:10 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I would like to support the Motion on the floor. In doing so, I would like to draw the attention of the House to a very important issue that has been raised in the Report.
Mr Speaker, on the surface, they may look like ordinary incidents but if one sat before the auditees and listen to the kind of explanation coming up, one gets the impression that the kind of robustness required to manage our oil income does not exist. One gets the impression that people almost treat these things in a very haphazard manner.
Mr Speaker, sometimes, the officials are keener in finding explanations than in finding solutions to the problems. Looking at the Observations and Recommen- dations, paragraph 6, at one point, key documents covering the lifting of crude from the Jubilee Fields, correspondence from GNPC's equity financing cost and invoices from other incomes, were not available.
It appeared that nobody was responsible for ensuring that our oil income was managed in a very robust manner, including the keeping of documents to aid the Audit Service in doing its work.
Mr Speaker, I would dwell on just two of the issues. The first has to do with other incomes not captured under any account. We are talking of a total of about
US$678,998.00, which were never captured under any of the petroleum accounts.
When one listens to the responses given, sometimes they say it is because the accounts have not been opened and it took some time before we could open an account.
Sometimes, Mr Speaker, one would wonder why the Bank of Ghana, whose core duty is to open accounts and operate accounts on our behalf, would wait for six to seven months before opening an account, when we know very well that we are inspecting receipts of income into those accounts.
Even on personal basis, if I know that I am going to receive a cheque today, it is possible to open an account today, deposit that cheque and clear the money today. Yet officials would sit by for months, and the only explanation they give is that, we had not opened the account. And so, it becomes difficult to even trace the movement of the funds since they were not in any recognised account.
Mr Speaker, in my opinion, as Parliament, we should be very serious about these things and make proper recommendations, so that these things are not taken for granted.
Mr Speaker, I would also like to talk about investment of the funds. Again, one would see lack of seriousness in how our Heritage and Stabilisation Funds are invested. In one case, we had about 69 million invested and the investment income was just about US$5,000.00. And again, the reason they gave was that at the time, for almost eleven months, they had not opened an account and so, they could not invest the moneys in the necessary areas to generate income.
Mr Speaker, the overall picture is that those who should take care of our funds, invest our funds and manage our funds
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:10 p.m.
Thank you very much.
Mr David T. Assumeng (NDC -- Shai- Osudoku) 12:20 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I also rise to support the Motion and urge the House to adopt the Report.
Mr Speaker, there are laws and regulations in the country and everyone is expected to abide by these laws and regulations.
But most often, people are found wanting in terms of enforcement of these laws.
Mr Speaker, my disappointment is mostly based on the officials who are to implement these regulations. There are laws that govern collection and payment of Government revenue in this country, but if we go through most of the Reports of the Public Accounts Committee, we realise that our officials are not living up to expectation.
Most of the technocrats in our offices are not living up to expectation, thereby creating problems for Government in terms
of revenue generation. So, I believe that it is about time Parliament as an institution took this issue up. At times, it is as though nobody cares -- and these are not politicians. These are technocrats. If these issues bothered on politicians, heaven would break loose. But we are sitting down and looking at these officials who are in charge of collecting and depositing Government revenue and they are having a field day.
I believe that the Public Accounts Committee and all other committees that are supposed to see to holding these officials to task would begin to crack the whip. Let us find a way of disciplining people, because I think that it is a worrying situation.
If we are not able to do this, then resources would be going into the drain. We would not be able to marshal resources to develop this country.
So, I would like to urge that people who are responsible for collecting Government revenue and depositing, among them, is withholding tax - People would collect withholding taxes and would not pay them as early as the law regulates. I believe that these are all worrying issues.
So, I would like to thank the Public Accounts Committee for these revelations and urge that we go a little further to make sure that people are punished when they try to dilly dally with Government revenue, in terms of not paying on time.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
Mr Alfred K. Agbesi (NDC -- Ashaiman) 12:20 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I would like to make some few observations on this Report.
Mr Speaker, the Committee made observations, paragraph 6.1, unavail- ability of supporting documents and the Committee listed the documents which were not available -- invoices for crude lifted from the Jubilee Fields, corres- pondence for GNPC's equity financing cost and invoices for other income surface rentals.
Mr Speaker, I wonder why these vital documents were not available, and although the Committee went further upon the comments from the officials from the Bank of Ghana, that these things would be taken care of, what has happened so far?
I would have expected the Committee to come out and tell us, since these documents were not available for auditing. What is the stage of the funds from those liftings?
Mr Agyeman-Manu 12:20 p.m.
On a point of order.
Mr Speaker, the Deputy Majority Leader was asking about what had happened after they realised that these things were not available.
In the same Report, the paragraph that captures the explanation from Bank of Ghana and Mr Speaker, I read with your indulgence, page 4, the first paragraph, second line:
“Following the audit, the Fund Secretariat has been operational and the situation has normalised. The documents in question have also been retrieved and made available for audit verification”.
It is on that basis that the Committee recommended that the Funds Secretariat should ensure that records are kept on all transactions at all times to ensure accountability and transparency.
So, presently, all documents are always available, and subsequent Reports, if he should come to report again for subsequent years, you would realise that the situation has actually normalised.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:20 p.m.
Thank you very much.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
Mr Agbesi 12:20 p.m.
Having said so, Mr Speaker, it means that I would say your Committee has done a good job, because that is the area I was concerned about -- non availability of documents for audit purposes. If later these things were found and worked on, then Mr Speaker, I would commend your Committee, that they have done well in this regard.
Mr Speaker, these are my few observations.
Thank you.
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:20 p.m.
Thank you very much.
Hon Members, I believe that it would be most appropriate to ask the Chairman of the Committee to wind- up.
Mr Agyeman-Manu 12:20 p.m.
I would like to thank my Hon Colleagues for contributing to the debate and urging our Hon Colleagues to adopt the Committee's Report, as we try to adopt or accept the Motion that has been listed.
Mr Speaker, I am also very grateful for the comments from the Deputy Majority Leader and my Hon Colleague from
Mr First Deputy Speaker 12:20 p.m.
Thank you very much.
Hon Members, we will defer the Question for very obvious reasons.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, do we have any more to do?
Mr Alfred K. Agbesi 12:20 p.m.
Mr Speaker, we would defer other business for the day.
Mr Speaker, at this stage, I beg to move, that the House do adjourn till tomorrow at 10.00 o'clock in the forenoon.
Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu 12:20 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
Question put and Motion agreed to.
ADJOURNMENT 12:20 p.m.

  • The House was accordingly adjourned at 12.29 p.m. till Friday, 29th January, 2015 at 10.00 a.m.