Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama, on Friday warned that Ghana could slip into the anarchy associated with some oil producing countries like Nigeria, if there is lack of transparency and accountability in the handling of the revenue expected to be generated from the resource.
"It would be expedient to anticipate challenges and to provide control measures to withstand these challenges.
We would have to learn from the experiences of countries like Nigeria, Gabon and Cameroon.
to leapfrog some of the challenges and provide adequate contingency measures to surmount them.
" Alhaji Mahama gave the caution when he addressed a Presidential Luncheon in Accra, organised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants-Ghana, on the theme: "Discovery of Oil in Ghana: The Benefits and Challenges.
" He called for a framework that would build transparency and confidence in the public accounting system.
Alhaji Mahama stressed: "We must therefore, as a nation, start training and developing our human resource base to effectively participate in the exploitation and management of the emerging petroleum industry.
" He said government was reviewing the petroleum income tax and production laws to bring it in line with the expectations of the industry.
Mr Bababatunde Oremade, Head of the Oil and Gas Audit Group of Deloitte, Nigeria, who gave the keynote, noted that the discovery of an estimated three billion barrels of oil on the West Cape Three Points in Ghana, places the country in the league of African major oil producing countries when production commence in 2010.
Countries in Africa that had discovered oil in commercial quantities include Nigeria, Chad, Angola, Sao Tome and Principe, Gabon, Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea.
Mr Oremade also warned that the discovery of oil had led to destabilisation in some countries leading to stunted growth, low per capita income, poor infrastructure and corruption.
He called for an appropriate tax law to deal with the complexities of petroleum profits.
"The idea of introducing a fiscal responsibility law would ensue that the medium term fiscal framework of government is open to public scrutiny is welcome.
" Mrs Cecilia Nyann, President of the Institute, asked Ghanaian businessmen to position themselves to tap the immense economic benefits that could accrue from the oil find and not allow expatriates to have a field day.
Ms Anna Bossman, Acting Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, who chaired the function, said Ghanaians should not consider the oil discovery as the panacea to all their problems.