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Contract Integrity and Ghana beyond Aid: The Oil Perspective

Currently, Ghana appears to be wading through another development process inscribed on the concept of Ghana beyond Aid (GBA). Like  an infectious flu, different  segments  of the  society   have been  caught  sneezing  the concept , spurring    conversations  over   best  options and approach  to translate it into realisable  and beneficial outcome. Embedded in the concept is private sector involvement.

Upbeat about the   prospects   GBA   hold , other  countries  are  signalling their  support  .In  February 2018 , the government of Norway  , inaugurated   a  private sector   focused  business  fund    towards  the   realisation of   the process   .The Norwegian response   is not in isolation but  in tandem  with  the    trade and commerce  flavour  emphasised by   the  GBA. Sort

A Daily Graphic  publication on Tuesday  April  3 2018  informs that   GBA  is possible  if  Government can enhance  domestic Revenue  and   go an extra step to Clamp down on Tax holidays for Multinationals in order  to  realise  maximum benefit  from  its  resources  . This assertion brings into focus the beneficial value for redefining how we    relate with our private entities- usually referred to as investors that Ghana, do business with.

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Over the last three to four decades, generous tax concession and related flexibilities has characterised the mode of doing business with private sector multinationals, which practise has continually been condemned as counterproductive to revenue mobilization and tax income for resource host countries and governments. The inverse relationship between Poor revenue mobilization and economic    imbalances that usually plague investor host countries like Ghana   is not a new story. Essentially Contract is denominator in this relationship, bringing into relevance how our oil contract matters in the face of the spiralling investment in our hydrocarbon resources.

Oil in the wheel of History

Historical antecedents attest  that , Oil has been   an important traded   commodity with strong exchange value since some 5000 years ago .Oil has been known and used since ancient times in different ways , used   as a  form of  mineral oil with curative properties for human  beings and animals in classical Rome , central Asia , pre-Hispanic  America and  Central Europe .Oil was used  as Pitch in the Walls of Jericho and roads in Babylonia, tar in Egypt etc . Given its  uses , history  confirms   the   central role  that   contract   played  in its  exploration , sales and distribution  among  early  peoples and communities around the world  .

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Inscriptions  on  Cuneiforms  in the early centuries  demonstrate  how  Oil  contract and Purchase  agreement  had been  fashioned ,  showed   records  of  approved prices that  had been established.  The Government Trade Commission under the reign of Hammurabi around 1817 BC provides an ample source of historical account.

 Oil Contract  vrs  state Revenue  

Undoubtedly  ,Ghana  Beyond Aid   connotes  self   reliance in which way  mobilizing our internal resources  -material or  otherwise  for  development financing is imperative ,a  compelling reason we cannot afford  to miss out on  deriving  the best benefit from our natural resources  assets  otherwise  the best probable option  may be  to  leave it  unexploited .

Not too distance away, the outcomes of two distinct but   interrelated expert reviews over  oil contracts   that Ghana entered into  with Exxon Mobil  brought   into focus some disturbing revelations – circumvented the state’s laid  down procedures and downplay on  Ghana’s interest.

 

Losing grips over our oil contracting in the wake of GBA probably set the tone for the   poor realisation of what GBA has on offer. Contract provides a strong basis for generating the much needed   revenue for development. For this reason,  deliberate  efforts  for   strengthening  collaboration between  state  and   non  state actors  and political duty bearers  stands a  beneficial  option to pursue . Going this way  aligns with  the principles of Inclusive  Development  philosophy  and growth  path that  Ghana  has  chosen  to  abide by .

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Undeniably  state agencies and  personalities  have the capacity to  negotiate contract on behalf of the people of Ghana  .However  is  also  true  is  that , a  cadre of Citizen  equally   equipped with knowledge and skills  in  natural resources  contracting remain outside the arena of  state  institutions , a raison  d’être   to  harvest   these  resources  to  increase opportunities and  success chances     in  our natural  resources sector   business  conduct . Traversing this path is sure way to consolidate gains and build consensus for increased achievement – Who will set the   pace?

 

 

By Noble Wadza, Oil Watch- Africa

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