Posted by: rumnet | April 18, 2012

Assembly Members, CSOs In Tamale Fumes Over Oil Cash

Assembly Members, CSOs In Tamale Fumes Over Oil Cash

Northern Ghana Gets 5.2%, Eastern Region 38%

(Published in the March 2012 edition of the advocate)

By Joseph Ziem

An Oil rig

Members of the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly, have charged the government to explain to Ghanaians the criteria it used to disburse the oil revenue among the ten administrative regions in the country.

They described the criteria used for disbursing the oil cash as fraught with inequity and  smacks of insult to some section of Ghanaians, considering the fact that some regions have been allocated huge amounts of money, whereas others have also been given derisory amounts.

The disgruntled Assembly members, could not fathom why the total percentage share of the three regions of the North – Upper West, Upper East and Northern Regions, put together was not even up to 6%, and demanded an urgent explanation from the government.

“We feel the Mills-Mahama led administration of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) has been unfair to the entire North in the distribution of national resources if what we are hearing and seeing is anything to go by”, the Assembly members protested during a forum organized by Accountability and Good Governance Network (AGNet) with support from the Ghana Developing Communities Association (GDCA).

Information from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning made available by AGNet to participants at the forum, showed that the Eastern Region was allocated GH¢63,821,794.84 (38%), Brong Ahafo Region GH¢18,218,381.52 (10.8%), Western Region GH¢16,946,647.10 (10%), Ashanti Region GH¢12,864,004.37 (7.7%) and Volta Region GH¢8,365,521.64 (5%).

The rest include Northern Region with GH¢5,099,412.00 (3%), Greater Accra Region GH¢3,935,581.31 (2.3%), Central Region GH¢2,553,931.81 (1.5%), Upper West Region GH¢ 2,012, 082.59 (1.2%) and Upper East Region GH¢1,650,000.00 (1%).

From by the above statistics, the regions with the lion’s share include Eastern, Western, Brong Ahafo and Ashanti Regions whose share of the oil money was more than GH¢10million each. “What serious or urgent development priorities does the NDC government have in the Eastern, Western and Brong Ahafo Regions, that the share of each of them is more than the total amount of monies allocated to the three regions of the North, which are always considered the poorest in the country?”, one of the Assembly members (name withheld) queried in an interview with The ADVOCATE.

Most of the Assembly Members say the total share of the three Northern Regions amounting to (GH¢848,917.00) representing 0.5% was too scanty, considering the fact that climate change effects were seriously beginning to affect farming activities, thus the need for government to consider huge capital investment in agriculture in the North.

While demanding that the government should disclose the exact total share of the oil revenue it has so far got from the Jubilee field partners, the Assembly Members called for the establishment of a long term development plan to guide the judicious use of the oil revenue. The plan would also guide every government that comes to power to know where it can spend money on by considering the development priorities of the country.

The Assembly Members chided the three Members of Parliament in Tamale -Alhaji Abubakari Sumani (Tamale North), Alhaji Inusah Fuseini (Tamale Central), and Iddrisu Haruna (Tamale South) -for their frequent absenteeism from quarterly meetings organized by the Assembly to explain government policies such as the oil and gas policies to them to enable them also get their people informed.

Communique

Meanwhile, a communiqué jointly signed by Prince A.A Mohammed, Assemblyman for Fooshegu Electoral Area and Presiding Member of the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly and Damma Salifu, President of AGNet, pointed out that if the development gap between the North and South must be bridged, government would have to ensure that the oil revenue was equitably distributed, that is, the regions with more needs should be given more allocations and those with less needs given less.

The communiqué called for a review of the criteria that was used for the disbursement of the fund describing, the process as unfair, adding: “The three regions of the North are the poorest and need more resources to develop. Thus, allocations to each of the three regions must be increased to 10%”.

It also recommended that the amount of money allocated to the agriculture sector should be increased to 20% instead of the current 7% and that the three regions of the North should be given more priority in the use of such monies. “More attention must be paid to the agric sector to ensure that it is more productive so that the youth will not be tempted to migrate to the oil producing areas in search of greener pastures”, the communiqué emphasised.

While observing that the 79.8% of the oil money earmarked for the construction of roads was very necessary, the communique called on the government to endeavour to use 30% of the amount to construct roads in the three regions of the North.

The communiqué further asked the government to use the GH¢750,000.00, representing 0.4% of the oil money allocated for capacity building in areas related to oil and gas, to support rural education in the three regions of the North and also ensure that the capacity building does not benefit only those in the southern sector.

The workshop was part of the implementation of AGNet’s citizen-government engagement programme aimed at building the capacities of communities with relevant information and skills to enable them effectively engage duty bearers to be accountable to their people.

It was also intended to sensitise members of the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly on issues surrounding the oil and gas industry and seek their opinion with regards to how government should use the oil money.

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