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PIAC calls for proper documentation on oil-funded projects

  • SOURCE: | qwesa2big
  • oil money

    The public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) is calling for a proper documentation on projects that are funded by oil revenues to aid the committee in monitoring those projects.

    The documentation has become necessary because, according to PIAC, most beneficiaries of such projects do not know that the projects are funded by oil revenues and, therefore, create the impression that people were not benefiting from the resource.

    In an interview after a field visit to one of such projects being funded by oil revenues, the Chairman of the Committee, Professor Paul Kingsley Paul Buah-Bassuah, said people did not know about projects being funded with oil revenues because there was no proper documentation on them.

    “We do not inform the people who are supposed to benefit from the projects. I think it is time for PIAC to be given information and documents on buildings that oil revenues are allocated for when we are visiting these project sites”, he said.

    It came to light during a visit to the Zebilla Senior High Technical School in the Bawku West District in the Upper East Region of Ghana, that school authorities, as well as some officials in the District Assembly, had no idea that the construction of a two-storey dormitory for the school was being funded by oil revenues.

    “To the ordinary man in the district, he knows that it is the Ministry of Education that is doing this project. Meanwhile, the project started with funding from the ministry, but when the need for a top-up came up, it had to be done from oil revenues in 2014, parcelled through the Ministry of Education on initiatives in the education sector,” he said.

    The Assistant Headmaster in charge of Administration of the school, Mr Bukari Abdulai, and the District Engineer of the Zebilla District Assembly, Mr Musah Paul, in separate interviews, conceded that they had no idea the project was being funded by oil revenues until the visit.

    The monitoring exercise was done by members of PIAC and some members of the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists (IFEJ) undergoing training on the extractive industry on selected oil-funded projects in the Upper East and West regions of Ghana.

    PIAC is the committee which has oversight responsibility on the management of the country’s oil revenues.

    The project

    The dormitory project for the school was said to have received about GH¢85,000 from the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) as at the end of 2015.

    The construction work, according to the contractors, Alhaji Sofo Sana Construction Limited, stalls intermittently due to the lack of funds.

    When the team visited the school on July 19, plastering work was ongoing but because the project had stalled for a while, there would be the need to revise work done of the roofing of the building as well as nets covering the windows.

    The District Engineer of the Zebilla District Assembly, Mr Paul said per the information he had, funds were not forthcoming from the Ministry of Education and as a result, oil revenues had to be used to supplement.

    “If the project is supposed to last for six months and the work is travelling into a year or more, you realise that estimates will not be applicable after the six months. From the information that the contractor is giving, it is supposed to be financed by the Ministry of Education but due to challenges, there was the need for the project sum to be revised and that was when the oil money came in,” he said.

    School in need

    The Assistant Headmaster in charge of Administration of the school, Mr Bukari Abdula, said the school was urgently in need of the building to be completed and released for use by the students.

    “We need it very urgently, because one of our dormitories got burnt in 2014 so we converted some of the classrooms into dormitories. That has had an effect on our classroom accommodation. The early completion of this project will help us to relocate the students to this block so we can have this classroom free for students to use,” he said in an interview.

    On the issue of funding, he said, “As far as I am aware, the funding is from the Ministry of Education. The contractor will come to site then after some time he will leave, and when we try to reach him, he would complain that he had run out of money. After sometime, he will come back and then leave again.”

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