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Agyapa deal not bad, but factor public scrutiny into its comeback – Manteaw to govt

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong
Agyapa
Dr Steve Manteaw

The intent of maximizing revenue in the extractive sector through the Agyapa Royalties deal initiated by the government in 2020 is not a bad idea, the Chairperson of the Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas, Dr Steve Manteaw has said.

However, he said the lack of public trust and confidence in the government is one of the main reasons for the delay in the implementation of the deal.

Presenting the Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas' findings as part of a report on how political considerations impact efforts to improve governance and development outcomes of Ghana’s extractive sector in Accra on Thursday [April 22, 2021], Dr Manteaw said the thought and the intentions to optimize revenue from the extractive sector was laudable.

He, however, indicated that a series of actions and inactions on the part of government sometimes contributed to the public rejection of certain moves, such as the introduction of the Agyapa deal.

In the Agyapa deal for instance, the public raised issues on the lack of checks and balances in the governance system and the fact that it was seen by the public to be in the hands of the Minister of Finance, the President and a “few other powerful” individuals in government.

Raising badly needed finance

“I think it is important to recognize that as a country we have a huge challenge in raising badly needed finance for our national development and this has become even more acute in the light of the impact of COVID-19 on the global economy and therefore our ability to seek bi-lateral and multi-lateral funding,” Dr Manteaw said.

“In the case of this, what you do is to innovate and I think that Agyapa is an attempt to innovate in raising badly needed financing for the country’s development, so the idea, and the intent itself is not bad but I think the problem had to do with the manner of its design and execution, and the lack of adequate safeguard to protect the national interest,” Dr Manteaw noted.

Bringing Agyapa back

Commenting on the coming back of the Agyapa deal, Dr Manteaw said, “well we’ve raised a number of issues and I recall that in the run up to the 2020 elections when the president [Akufo-Addo] directed that the deal, I mean the transaction, be stalled and referred it to the Minister of Finance and the Attorney-General to kind of review and incorporate the concerns of the CSOs into the transaction document, the expectation was that issues about conflict of interest was going to be addressed.”

“We also anticipate that issues relating to the under valuation of the royalty will be addressed and then we think that it is important to build the whole transaction arrangement with adequate safeguards and public access to information.”

“We will want to see arrangements such as we have with the oil revenue management, in the form of PIAC [Public Interest and Accountability Committee], a citizens led additional public oversight through which citizens will be able to access information on the management of these royalties that form the basis of this transaction,” he added.

Dr. Manteaw presented his paper at a convening organized by STAR Ghana Foundation in partnership with Civil Society Platform on Oil & Gas and the Columbia Centre for Sustainable Investments.

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