Former President John Dramani Mahama has described as "disconcerting" news that some $100 million has been diverted from petroleum funds for unapproved expenditure.

Former President, John Dramani Mahama

Mr. Mahama said Section 3 of the PRMA (Act 815) is explicit that all Petroleum revenue due the Republic derived from whatever source shall be assessed, collected and accounted for by the Ghana Revenue Authority.

In a Facebook post, he quoted Section (15) of the Petroleum Exploration and Production Act (Act 919), which states that "Any borrowing exceeding the cedi equivalent of thirty million United States Dollars for exploration, development and production shall be approved by Parliament and shall be in consonance with the Petroleum Revenue Management Act."

He said there can be no justification for diverting revenues accruing from the nation's share of petroleum resources into any other account aside from the PHF.

The former President, therefore, called on the Minister for Finance to immediately repatriate all such illegal payments back into the PHF without delay as there is no record to confirm parliamentary approval on any such loans acquired by GNPC in their work programme.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Mines and Energy Committee of Parliament, Mr Samuel Atta Akyea, has said no $100 million oil money due Ghana is missing,

According to him, the money was used to settle upfront, a loan taken from the ministry of finance by GNPC Subsidiaries, to acquire a seven per cent stake in the TEN and Jubilee oil fields on behalf of the state.

In his view, therefore, even though administrative processes may not have been followed in terms of lodging the money in the Petroleum Holding Fund (PHF), no harm was done to the state by the upfront payment of the loan taken by GNPC Subsidiaries using that quantum of petroleum receipts.

Mr Atta Akyea told Kofi Oppong Asamoah on Class91.3FM's breakfast show on Friday, 30 September 2020: "Well, I think it's a storm in a teacup because sometimes the impression is being given that the money has been spirited away".

According to him, "there's a whole debate, as to whether or not some money should be lodged in the petroleum holding fund, so, it's an interpretation and accounting".

The former minister of Works and Housing said his crosschecks show that "there was an opinion from the attorney general to the effect that they needn't place the money in that account for the simple reason that there's a seven-per cent equity acquisition in the TEN and Jubilee fields by GNPC Subsidiary and they didn't have the money so the ministry of finance borrowed them the money so they do this acquisition; they are trying to improve the governmental stakes in these petroleum blocks".

"When they [GNPC Subsidiaries] took the loan, they were unable to pay, so, they used the petroleum receipts due them to settle it, so, the ministry of finance took the money and paid for the loan upfront," Mr. Atta Akyea explained.

"The whole problem is simple: that the sheer fact that the money was not lodged in the PHF does not mean the money has been spirited away or stolen. … It's all a balancing account, but when push it to the political dimension that some money has been spirited away, it leaves much to be desired," he added.

He said: "The sum of money, if you look at it, is equal to the seven per cent equity stake that the government, through GNPC Subsidiary, has acquired. Let's look at it from that perspective. So, when somebody is using his ingenuity to confer advantage and benefit to Ghana, ultimately, how can that be a problem?"

"And if the money was not so lodged in the PHF but it is shown that, indeed, the shares have been acquired, and the shares have been paid for, how can that be anything to undermine this country, financially?" he wondered.

He continued: "Are we looking at the substance or the form? The sheer fact that the money was not lodged in the account, but the money has been applied as it can be applied in the share acquisition to the benefit of Ghana".

Mr. Atta Akyea, who is the MP for Akim Abuakwa South in the Eastern Region, said: "My concern, with the greatest of respect, is that even if administrative processes were not followed, is there any disadvantage to Ghana when seven per cent shares have been acquired in the TEN and Jubilee fields?"

"That is the point of the matter. If administrative procedures were not followed, has it caused any financial loss to the state or it has helped us financially because if we are not careful, anything becomes political and propaganda".

He added: "My joy is that no money has been lost to the state yet because we have gained. If there are any tax implications on this transition, then they should be called upon to pay the tax".

Source: classfmonline