The Ministry of Energy has said it will continue to engage stakeholders in the energy sector on how to improve transparency in the award of contracts in the petroleum industry.
The ministry’s comment follows concerns raised by the African Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) for an open and competitive process in the award of petroleum contracts and mandatory disclosure of beneficial ownership information in the sector.
Speaking to Class Business’ Pious Kojo Backah on the sidelines of a stakeholder engagement workshop on petroleum contracting, petroleum revenue management and beneficial ownership in Ghana, a Senior Policy Analyst at ACEP, Pauline Anaman, urged government to be transparent in the award of contracts in the industry.
She said: “ACEP is seeking to ensure that the petroleum contracting process – that is the licensing allocation process – is first of all transparent. We agreed the regulation ensures good level of transparency and we’re very proud of that but we’re saying more can be done.
“When it comes to direct negotiation, it has to be equally opened. The qualification of the companies must be declared even before they enter so that they know that this is the criteria I have to meet to be able to even start bidding or going into direct negotiation.
“The other thing is, also, when the negotiation is on-going, Ghanaians must know the process, understand the evaluation criteria, it has to be open. If you follow the process, we will be able to feed into it and as a result we could have a better outcome.”
She bemoaned, however, that: “What the law does not provide for is redress mechanism. When a company feels aggrieved, what mechanisms are there for the company to feel that they’ve been treated fairly? So, these are things we feel we must take a second look at.”
Reacting to these concerns, Communication Specialist at the Energy Ministry, Nana Damoah told Pious Kojo Backah that government would continue to solicit views from industry players to deepen the transparency in the petroleum industry.
Mr Damoah maintained, however, that there are existing mechanisms in place to ensure transparency in the industry.
He said: “We acknowledge their concerns and we’re also doing quite a lot to improve transparency in the industry. Concerning the three issues that they raised, at least, if not for anything at all, we’ve addressed these issues. You can raise issues about how far-reaching these matters are.
“On issues of disclosure, we’ve made everything available online, so, you don’t have to come to the ministry. Anybody in any part of Ghana can have access to it.
“When it comes to disclosure on direct negotiations, we publish in the newspapers and we’ll continue to engage to find more direct means of ensuring that every Ghanaian is aware when such negotiations are on-going.
“And when it comes to issues of grievances addressing mechanisms, we already have the petroleum commission, there is the traditional arbitration, there is also the court. And we’ll continue to engage and accept all of these suggestions and criticisms…”