The Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has called the bluff of the Minority in Parliament daring them to go to court if they estimate that GNPC is wrong for requesting to spend money on Corporate Social Responsibility programme.
Kojo Oppong Nkrumah insisted that it is not up to the Minority to determine what the GNPC should spend and what is acceptable or not acceptable and suggested that they have no such right to make such calls.
He said, should they [Minority] find anything irregular about the budget of GNPC there are appropriate institutions and mechanisms they have to resort to and not throw allegations and orders around as if they have the final say.
The Corporation plans to spend US$ 43.05 million on corporate social responsibility for the 2019 operational year, an amount which is higher than what has been allocated for their core mandate resulting in many raising eyebrows.
“If indeed they believe that there are legal breaches, we don’t settle legal breaches on radio. With the greatest of respects, we know where to proceed as a matter of fact that there are legal breaches. In the absence of that we can’t go on on that tangent” the Information Minister noted.
He was quick to add that “if it is their view that it is a legal breach they know where to settle it if it is their view that it is a policy breach they do not agree with, policy matters are decided first at cabinet and then brought on the floor for approval. Have these two benchmarks been met? If they have been met, then one person’s view that he does not ascribe to that policy position cannot hold the country to bay that it is undoing that particular policy position.”
Minority spokesperson on Finance Cassiel Ato Forson in an interview with the media at the foyer of Parliament expressed grave concern at the GNPC budget and directed that it be withdrawn and adjusted.
He was convinced that the money could be used more productively by the Corporation and questioned why such huge sums of money will be used on CSR projects.
To this end, he stressed he will not be part of the process to approve such a budget and urged members on his side of the House to do same as the budget doesn’t provide confidence and prudent use of the resources.
“I can’t be part of this. Count me out” he said repeatedly.
However, this position of the Minority’s spokesperson on Finance was discounted by Kojo Oppong Nkrumah who maintains that the revenue is being spent in the country thus it will affect the lives of the Ghanaian citizen.
He, therefore, suggested that Ato Forson’s concerns are without strong basis and are unfounded.
“All of that expenditure goes to impact our country. All of that expenditure is not as though that money is going to be spent in other jurisdiction. That money to the best of my understanding is been spent here in Ghana to augment part of the resources in this country that are being used to provide public goods and services to the people, so that argument with great respect will not be tenable” Information Minister told a gathering of the press at parliament.
ACEP raises red flags
Energy Think Tank, ACEP has expressed disappointment at GNPC’s decision to spend so much on social responsibilities when it has spent far less on its core operations and exploration activities.
In a detailed analysis released to explain their position and break the issues for public consumption, ACEP was alarmed that the budget for GNPC’s CSR activities was more than the budgets of key Ministries like Attorney General’s Department, Energy, Agriculture and Finance Ministries.
They argue that such funds could be split and allocated for more prudent ventures that will yield better returns for the state opining that GNPC spends too much on CSR.
“In 2019, GNPC proposes to spend $20.3 million on its operations in the Voltaian Basin and its subsidiaries in the sector. This is less than 50% of what GNPC wants to spend on CSR,” the energy policy think tank stated.
“While GNPC, like any corporate entity, has a responsibility towards society, it is unusual for sound corporate organisations to spend more than 10% of its cash flow (not profit) on corporate social responsibility. The Corporation’s CSR expenditure becomes more profound when its CSR budget is compared with the budget of some critical ministries.”
“In relation to the total budget of the mentioned ministries, GNPC’s CSR budget represents 210%, 254%, 47%, and 65% respectively,” ACEP added.
They proposed that parliament should be strict in scrutinizing the budget for the 2019 financial year and recommended that, “Parliament should not approve any CSR budget for the Corporation until the end of the fifteen-year financing window provided in the PRMA has elapsed. This should free up funds for the Corporation to deliver on its core mandate as an upstream oil player”.
By: Jonah Eledi/awakenewsonline.com