Dr Manteaw urges gov’t to factor in public scrutiny into Agyapa comeback

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Chairman of the Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas, Dr Steve Manteaw

The Chairman of the Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas, Dr Steve Manteaw, has noted that the intent of maximizing revenue in the extractive sector through the Agyapa Royalties deal is “not a bad idea”, adding that it is rather “innovative”.

“In the case of this, what you do is to innovate, and I think that Agyapa is an attempt to innovate in raising badly needed financing for the country’s development. So the idea and the intent itself is not bad.  But I think the problem had to do with the manner of its design and execution, and the lack of adequate safeguard to protect the national interest,” he stated.

According to Dr Manteaw, even though the deal itself is a good one, its implementation has delayed due to the lack of public trust and confidence in the government, among other factors.

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He said this in Accra last week during a presentation of the group’s findings as part of a report on how political considerations impact efforts to improve governance and development outcomes of Ghana’s extractive sector.

Laudable initiative

He described the thought and the intentions of the government to optimize revenue from the extractive sector as ‘laudable’.

He, however, cautioned government officials fronting the deal to be mindful of their actions. According to him, some actions and inactions of some members of the government contributed to the public rejection of the deal and other initiatives of the state.

He said in the Agyapa deal, for instance, the public raised issues on the lack of checks and balances in the governance system and the fact that it was seen by the public to be in the hands of the Minister of Finance, the President and a “few other powerful” individuals in government.

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“I think it is important to recognize that as a country we have a huge challenge in raising badly needed finance for our national development and this has become even more acute in the light of the impact of COVID-19 on the global economy and therefore our ability to seek bi-lateral and multi-lateral funding,” Dr Manteaw said.

Agyapa comeback

He expressed optimism that the reintroduction of the transaction would get the needed support it needs. He however cautioned the government to deal with all bottlenecks surrounding the transaction before its introduction.

“…we’ve raised a number of issues and I recall that in the run up to the 2020 elections when the President directed that the deal, I mean the transaction, be stalled, and referred it to the Minister of Finance and the Attorney-General to kind of review and incorporate the concerns of the CSOs into the transaction document, the expectation was that issues about conflict of interest was going to be addressed.

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“We also anticipate that issues relating to the under valuation of the royalty will be addressed and then we think that it is important to build the whole transaction arrangement with adequate safeguards and public access to information,” he said.

“We will want to see arrangements such as we have with the oil revenue management, in the form of PIAC, a citizens’ led additional public oversight through which citizens will be able to access information on the management of these royalties that form the basis of this transaction,” he added.

Source: dailystatesman.com.gh

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