PIAC demands better explanation on use of GH¢ 403.74m ABFA Fund

FPSO Kwame Nkrumah

The Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) has reiterated that, contrary to the spirit and purpose of Act 815, the Ministry of Finance has still failed to account for the utilization of GH¢403.74 million of the ABFA Fund.

In a release by the PIAC on Monday, the Committee remained dissatisfied with the response of the Ministry and insists on further and better particulars as to the utilization of the amount.

The Ministry of Finance in an earlier release, refuted the assertion that the it could not account for GH¢403.7 million petroleum revenues of the ABFA funds. However, it noted the ABFA received in 2017 was GH¢733.2 million.

Of this amount, GH¢329.5 million was used for the payments for projects and an amount of GH¢403.7 million was transferred into the Treasury Main Account in 2017.

In the view of the Committee, the ‘sweeping’ of the unspent amount into an account other than the Petroleum Holding Fund, and co-mingling it with other funds, does not only open the floodgates for potential derailment of the mechanisms in Act 815 to ensure its judicious use.

It argues that the argument made by the ministry suggests that the money has been spent, ostensibly on programme and activities not budgeted for under the ABFA.

Projects inspection

In 2016, PIAC embarked on physical inspection of oil-funded projects, when it came to its attention that for five years running the Minister of Finance had failed to fully comply with Section 48 (2b) of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, 2011, Act 815, which enjoins the Minister to provide update on the stage of implementation of oil-funded projects, as part of its Reconciliation Report to Parliament.

The initial inspection covered six projects in the northern part of the country, where the Committee noted that three out of the six projects inspected did not exist.

The Committee indicates that on its return from the field, it wrote to the Minister of Finance in August 2016 to seek explanation for what it had uncovered during its project inspection. However, the Committee is yet to receive acknowledgement from the ministry.

On the issue regarding the unspent GH¢403.74 million, PIAC wrote to the Minister of Finance on June 19, 2018 for explanation, but has received no response.

The Committee’s claim its request for the half year data for 2018, which was requested for on July 17, 2018 has not been fully responded to. This data would enable PAIC put together its half year report.

The Ministry has so far provided data on ABFA allocations, but has failed to release data on expenditure. This as a result, PIAC has not been able to meet its statutory reporting timeline of September 15 for the report in question.

By Joshua W. Amlanu