The Alliance of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) Working on Extractives, Anti-Corruption and Good Governance has called on the government to be more transparent with the Gold for Oil (Gold4Oil) Programme to avoid any risk of corruption.
According to a member of the group, Dr Steve Manteaw, without proper disclosures and accountability, the programme would be used as grounds to engage in corruption which would be disastrous to the extraction sector.
“We have not had enough information on the government’s Gold4Oil programme, apart from headline statements being made either by way of public pronouncements or directives. We also do not have a comprehensive policy document that we would interrogate and make inputs,” he stated at the press briefing on Tuesday.
The government in November 2022 announced its decision to use a portion of the country’s gold output, which would be purchased in cedis from large and small-scale producers, in a ‘barter’ arrangement to secure reliable and regular sources of affordable petroleum products for the country.
The move according to the government would ease the demand pressure for dollars, which had led to a heavy depreciation of the cedi.
Dr Manteaw opined that, though it was necessary to reduce the demand pressure on the US dollars and its effect on Ghana’s economy, it was important for things to be done in a more structured and transparent manner to avoid corruption.
“Indeed our analyses reveal serious corruption risks associated with the programme which could be averted through transparency and accountability in the entire transaction chain of Gold4Oil programme,” he stated.
Some of the risks he said, had been captured in the recently released Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GHEITTI) report, covering 2020 but devoted some attention to current developments in the mining, oil and gas sectors.
The identified risks he said, related to the absence of a buyer selection criteria in respect of the off-taker of Ghana’s gold, absence of supplier selection criteria in respect of supplying of petroleum products and non-disclosure of pricing policy for Ghana’s gold.
“Non-disclosure of pricing policy for petroleum products purchases, lack of clarity on how the transaction costs under the programme would be covered and non-disclosure of the means by which the government intends to raise money to finance its gold purchases,” he added.
He said efforts must be made by the government to avert this corruption risks through open disclosures and accountability under the programme.
The CSOs he said, were convinced that good governance and prudent management of the extraction had the potential to support the government to navigate the current economic crisis.
The group he said, was encouraging transparency and expected the government to respond accordingly to avoid the group seeking legal intervention and demonstration