Government has begun engaging planning and development officers in Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to conduct planning, monitoring and evaluation of all oil funded projects across the country.
The initiative is being jointly spearheaded by the Ministry of Planning, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Local Government, National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) and the Ministry of Monitoring and Evaluation.
A two–day training to commence the collaboration begun at the Miklin Hotel on Wednesday in the Ashanti regional capital Kumasi with planning officers drawn from the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions.
The engagement is to decentralize the process of identifying needs, choosing projects to be funded with oil revenues and monitoring the projects to their completion.
Part of the sessions rendered by PIAC and the Planning Ministry rolled down slides upon slides of school buildings, roads, hospitals and sea defence projects that had been funded with millions of Oil Revenues which eventually turned out either non-existent or astronomically overpriced.
Speaking to Ultimate News, the Technical Director with the Ministry of Planning, Dr. Ishmael Ackah admitted that “there has always been a de-link between the plans prepared at the national level and what enters the budget and when this happens, they don’t get the ownership and they don’t monitor.
“We will be in Accra and we will say that Project A has been completed in a certain district and fortunately the district will not be aware and will not track it, especially projects funded by oil money.
“This has led to ghost projects, time over-runs on projects and even cost over-runs and we are losing millions of money through this kind of process,” Dr Ackah added.
He was confident that government will now have enough reports and statistics from the planning officers to make concrete cases for contractors; government officials and public officers who are found negligent or complicit in all such dubious contracts to be put before the prosecutorial processes laid down in the Petroleum Revenue Management Act.
Vice chairman of the Public Interest and accountability Committee Mr. Kwame Jantuah explained that the planning officers of the various assemblies are going to be empowered and given more room to collaborate with the NDPC, the Planning Ministry, PIAC and other relevant bodies in government on the way oil revenues should be allocated and monitored across Ghana.
He said the initiative was timely as PIAC is not adequately resourced to keep tabs on all such oil funded projects in all MMDAs across the country.
He indicated, “It’s a much broader group of people that we can depend on so if we are going into a particular region where there is a list of projects that we need to verify, and we cannot verify all, they can do it on our behalf, come back to us we sit with them, we go to the particular area with them and we work together and this will help us to verify much more projects than we are doing now and that is an advantage to us.”
The planning officers at the end of the programme will be introduced to a template where they will fill in details and verifiable pictures of a list of oil funded projects being undertaken in their various assembly areas and how it is positively or negatively affecting the lives of the targeted communities.
This template is expected to be a source of document for information, monitoring and statistics for government, civil society, the media and any relevant body interested in finding out how Ghana is utilizing its oil revenues.
By: Ghana/Ultimatefmonline.com/106.9FM/Ivan Heathcote- Fumador & Mina Ali.