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Ghana begins review of GNPC’s mandate to end unnecessary diversion

Due to observed involvements in irrelevant projects and expenditure that have nothing to do with control and regulatory roles in Ghana oil and gas industry, moves are on to review the establishment Act of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC).

Joy Business Town Hall meeting, organised in partnership with the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) in Accra, Head of Programmes, Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), an oil and gas think tank, Mr Nicolas De-Heer, said “It is time to give GNPC a new law, a law that will make GNPC more focused on its mandate and curb its tendency to engage in wide ranging activities that detract from efficiency.”

In his argument, “GNPC seemed to be given a ‘blank cheque’ as part of its mandate, making it seemed to be veering off from what it was set up to be.

Business Hilights Ghana Bureau chief reports that the GNPC was established in 1983 under the PNDC Law 64, which mandates the corporation to undertake exploration, development, production, disposal of petroleum and nothing more, but recent developments tend to show that the Corporation has substantially veered off the Act by getting involved in activities that tend to clash with the roles of other agencies of the government.

De-Heer argued further that “The act of performing any other functions as it deemed necessary or expedient for the purpose of attaining object in carrying out its activities”- that sounds like a blank cheque to me.”

“But in the past, GNPC had engaged in a wide ranging of activities, which include non-petroleum related investment, holding equity stake in ‘lose making investment’, like Prestea Sankofa gold limited, a mining that was shut down in the last quarter of 2016 and it liabilities continue to weigh heavily on the finances of GNPC”.

“In 2018, GNPC set aside nearly 25 million dollars to pay off the mines liability, why is that the case,” Mr De-heer queried.

According to him, there was also a quasi-fiscal transaction and activities that were required to be performed by the government, a role, which GNPC seemed to be playing. “So GNPC is seen constructing roads and advancing loans to government.

“The third category of non-core activity of GNPC was the Corporate Social Responsibility-, of which its budget was so huge that it in some case overtook its personal and emolument budget- and that is the problem.

In his contribution, Minority Spokesperson on Mines and Energy, Mr Adam Mutawakilu, said aside looking at the law that established GNPC, the corporation should be well resourced so it could participate in the actual oil production and developing local expertise that would manage Ghana’s sector in the long term.

Besides, the Executive Director, MFWA, Mr Suleimana Ibrahim decried that “the oil is money and Ghana’s oil has given us money but the schools are yet to be fully built, our roads are yet to be fixed and our hospitals are yet to be equipped.

“With that much hope and anticipation with which we entered into the oil sector, we need to look back and see what went wrong, and what we learnt, and what must we do differently going forward.

“We are here to have a very dispassionate reflection on the oil discovery for the last 10 years, and hopefully be able to come out up with recommendations that will help us shape the oil industry to make it in such a way that it benefits the majority of our people and not a few,” Mr Ibrahim said.

In his comments, the Deputy Minister of Energy, Dr Amin Adam said the government would take serious look on the suggestions and work towards streamlining the activities of GNPC.

In Nigeria, it is not yet clear if the lawmakers may toe same line of reasoning as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) been in the habit of veering off from its core mandate to involve in projects that are far removed from its establishment Act including funding power plant and other none oil related activities in Nigeria.