Expert Wants Separate Account For Oil Money…Also Proposes Citizens’ Participation

By Alva M. Wolokolie

As part of the oil and gas sector reform process, a Ghanaian expert in the oil industry Mr. Kwame Jantuah has advised the Legislature to include in the draft Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Act of 2013 a law to create a separate account for all revenues coming out of the oil and gas industry.

If Liberia is to implement its long term development plan, the Ghanaian expert says money generated from all transactions in the oil sector should be monitored and strengthened properly to avoid leakages or corruption in the system.

Delivering his expert opinions on the draft Petroleum Act   before the Senate Standing Committee on Lands, Mines, and Energy yesterday at the Capitol Building, Mr. Kwame Jantuah told the audience and the committee members that if nothing is done to create and strengthen a separate account, he is optimist that there would be a huge leakages of revenue generated.

Kwame Jantuah, also a consultant at African Energy Consortium Limited in Ghana and London told the committee that page 7 of the document which deals with petroleum directory and regulation should be captured in the Petroleum Management Act and Liberians should be careful with International Oil     Companies (IOC) because of they behave like cowboys.

Still commenting on funds coming out as revenues from the oil sector, Mr. Jantuah suggested that the money should not go into a consolidated account but an extra account handled or kept exclusively by a Liberian bank.

“Honorable Senators, you need to be careful how funds are handled. You need to take the money from consolidated account and put in a separate account which also needs to be strengthened and monitored so that the discovery of oil should be a blessing and not a curse,” the Ghanaian Expert asserted.

While perusing the voluminous documents, Mr. Jantuah indicated that page 24 of the Act which talks about citizens’ participation as one of the best items outlined because in Ghana, the government has ensured that Ghanaians are informed about every transaction taking place.

“One thing you need to do now is to allow more Liberians participate in the process. Let Liberians be part, include the fishermen, the market women, civil society groups, the media and all other sectors of the society,” Mr. Jantuah intimated.

He named Trinidad and Tobago as one of the countries that have a good oil and gas law because the entire citizenry had participated in the process and continue to participate every day.

Touching on employment and local content of the Draft Act, Mr. Jantuah explained that when they started the process in Ghana, government was in the habit of prioritizing Ghanaians from abroad instead of Ghanaian who were home.

He mentioned there were criticisms and so the situation has changed. The Ghanaian Expert also advised the Senators to allow Liberians take over the local content of the oil and gas industry.

Mr. Jantuah added that in the local content law, no foreign companies should come along, they must come in with a Liberian partner and Liberians should even be given the opportunity to own an oil block.