Civil Society Organisations have asked government to suspend the signing of any petroleum contract agreement(s) with oil and gas companies until the country has the needed laws to back such agreements.
In an outcome document of the second annual civil society review forum on the natural resources and the environment sector in Accra, the organisations involving 100 members, said it was concerned about the repercussions of the haste in which government pushed for the production of oil without the requisite policy, legal and regulatory framework for the sector; and the snail-pace in finalising the appropriate policies and laws.
ï¿½Government should suspend signing further agreements with oil and gas companies until after the passage of the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Bill into Law. ï¿½We also call on Parliament and the ministries in-charge to accelerate action on the Local content Bill; Review of Petroleum Income Tax Law; Regulations and Operationalization of Petroleum Funds; National Gas Commercialization Policy and Gas Master Plan,ï¿½ it said.
The review meeting of the civil society organisations was backed by the Canadian governmentï¿½s development arm; DANIDA, CARE and the International Climate Change Organisation. The organisation also wants government to take steps to protect the rights of frontline communities with respect to gas commercialisation whiles at the same time expediting action on the Onshore Gas Development Programmes to avoid further gas flaring.
Ghana began the commercial production of oil in the Jubilee field of Cape-Three Point in December last year. According to the Bank of Ghana, at the end of May this year, the Ghana government had raked in US$954.6 million from the exports of 8.6 million barrels.
The Organisation has noted that it was about time the government disclosed petroleum contracts to the public to conform to the legal requirements of the country. ï¿½We acknowledge the recent disclosures of contracts by the Energy Ministry on their website, we, however, suggest that these should be prominently visible on the homepage and announcement made in the dailies about where the public can access these petroleum contracts.
ï¿½We also call for greater transparency in Oil Field Development Plans; Lifting; and Marketing Agreements,ï¿½ it said. However, it is not clear if the government will heed the call of the civil society organisations to suspend the signing of oil contracts when the concerns of the organisation raised at its first annual civil society review forum have failed to elicit action from the government.
Civil Society has conceded that the government was less concerned in addressing issues raised by the organisations saying: ï¿½we are concerned that government has done little in addressing the issues raised by civil society in the 2009 and 2010 communiquï¿½s from CSO forums on NRE governance.ï¿½
Source: Evans Boah-Mensah
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