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Use Oil Money on Priority Areas – MPs to Finance Minister

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Members of Parliament have tasked the Finance Minister to align Oil revenue to priority areas that would ensure meaningful impact on the lives of the citizenry.

Contributing to the report of the Finance Committee on the 2017 Annual Report on the Petroleum Funds, Komla Kpodo, Member for Ho Central Constituency, expressed concern that less than 30% of the country’s oil revenue was spent on infrastructure, whilst over 70% went to recurrent expenditure.

He noted that since investment into infrastructure ensures expansion of the economy, it behooves on the Finance Ministry to realign his priory areas in favour of infrastructure.

He lamented that when one goes round the country, one could see students learning under trees, and wonders why very little of oil money was being committed to infrastructure.

Contributing, John Jinapor, Member for Yapei / Kusawgu constituency, revealed that the country realized $362m in oil in 2017, nearly double that of 2016. He raised concern about the survival of Ghana Gas, which he said was indebted to the tune of about GH¢750m, adding that “the company is virtually collapsing”.

He said with all the gas produced by Ghana Gas last year, it was strange that not a penny was allocated to the company.

On his part, Member for Ellembelle constituency, Armah Kofi Buah, demanded that the Minister, and for that matter the government, should honour their promise to the people of the Western Region by allocating 10% of the oil money to the region for development. He decried the poverty level of the region in spite of the fact that it is the region that gives Ghana oil.

The Minority Leader and Member for Tamale South, Haruna Idrisu, said the report the minister presented understated the actual revenue realized, and asked him to furnish the House with how the difference was spent.

He observed that while the Report quoted the revenue realized in US Dollars ($362.58m), details of expenditure was given in cedis, stressing that the two do not add up.

He further decried the consistent decrease in investment in Agriculture and tasked the Ministry to allocate more funds towards that sector.

Majority Leader, Kyei Mensah Bonsu, generally agreed with the calls for more allocations go to areas such as infrastructure, agriculture and education.

Reacting to the concerns raised, Deputy Finance Minister, Kweku Kwarteng, indicated that almost all the major components of the allocations made had an element of expenditure on infrastructure.

He noted that a large chunk of the Annual Budget Funding has been spent on human capital investment, something he sees as having a direct impact on the lives of Ghanaians.

By: Frederick E. Aggrey

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