The Centre for Social Impact Studies (CeSIS), a research and advocacy organization has call on the Mahama-led government to refrain from spending natural resource revenues on items of expenditure that do not inure to the benefit of residents living in frontline communities.
According to the organization, considering the finite nature of natural resource revenues, it is absolutely necessary for government to concentrate expenditure on sectors like education, health, agricultural productivity and infrastructural development.
The Executive Director of CeSIS, Richard Ellimah made the call in a statement he issued in Accra today to react to the government’s decision to spend GHC 3.6 million to rebrand 116 Metro Mass Transit buses in the country.
It stated: “This is the only way that the people of Ghana can collectively benefit from the exploitation of their natural resources”.
The wanton use of natural resource revenues for such reckless expenditures should give every Ghanaian cause for concern. Natural resource revenues are not like other conventional sources of revenue available to the state, the statement lamented.
It explained that; “they are revenues that come from resources that are finite. Furthermore, prices of these natural resources are very volatile and unstable. These two key factors combined dictate that natural resource revenues are utilized prudently to ensure that the state derives optimum benefit from their extraction”.
It is sad to note however that successive governments have ignored these key principles regarding natural resource revenue management, and gone ahead to utilize revenues on items of expenditure that add no value to the lives of residents living in frontline communities or ameliorate their development challenges occasioned by the presence of these natural resources.
For instance, the statement pointed out that in the past they have seen mining revenues being used on recurrent expenditure like waste management, painting of district assembly administration buildings, purchase of fuel for DCEs’ vehicles, repair of telecommunication facilities, among others.
This has gone a long way to contribute to the increasing social tension in resource rich communities. Sadly, after more than 100 years of “formal” mining in Ghana, the country has very little to show for it.
Going by lessons in the mining sector, one would have thought that government, since the discovery in 2007, and commercial production of oil in December 2010 would be mindful of the need to utilize petroleum revenues prudently. Several reports, including those of the Public Interest Accountability Committee (PIAC) have implicated government in the misuse of petroleum funds.
The CeSIS therefore condemned the use of petroleum funds to rebrand Metro Mass Transit buses. Not only is the expenditure for the rebranding immorally outrageous, but the very idea that they came from petroleum funds makes it even more disappointing, to say the least.
“We are furthermore compelled to question the government’s own sense of priority in the utilisation of revenues.
At a time when various regulatory and oversight agencies in the natural resource sector like the Minerals Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Petroleum Commission and Public Interest and Accountability Committee are under-resourced, it makes no sense to spend GHC 3.6 million to rebrand vehicles”.
For the past three years mineral royalty has also not been paid, stalling development in mineral-dependent district assemblies.
Moreover, SEND Ghana, a Ghanaian civil society organisation reports that government’s own fertilizer subsidy programme has slumped from 50 percent in 2008 to 21 percent in 2015. It is little surprising that Ghana has stumbled two places back in the 2014 Human Development Index!