August 27, 2013

The Member of Parliament for Takoradi, Kwabena Mensah Darko is asking the Minister of Energy and Petroleum, Emmanuel Armah Kofi Bouah to immediately stop the move by some oil companies in the country to impede the passage of the Local Content Bill into law.

Legislative instrument (LI), which spells out regulations for the enforcement of provisions of the country’s Local Content and Participation Policy on the petroleum sector is currently before Parliament for considerations, and is expected to be passed into law after 21 sitting days.

The LI will also give legal backing to the proposed 10% ownership of all oild fields by Ghanaians, but the minority in Parliament has raised a number of issues with the Bill, which is threatening to impede its passage into law within the stipulated 21 days.

The MP for Takoradi also alleged some oil companies in the country are masterminding moves to stop the Bill from being passed into law.

According to him, the operators of the newly discovered oil field, Tweneboa Ten, for instance, want to sell the oil before the local content bill is passed into law.

This he said, would amount to a serious sabotage of government’s effort to give Ghanaians the opportunity to participate in the oil and gas industry.

“Although the minority in Parliament may have reservations about the Bill, it should be allowed to pass into law so that in the future the needed changes could be made.”

Kwabena Darko Mensah noted that the Minister of Energy had earlier assured Ghanaians nothing would impede the passage of the Bill, but “if the operators of the oil fields fail to adhere to the directives, the President himself must step in because Ghanaians have been cheated for too long.”

He agreed with the Minority in Parliament that there is need for a Local Content Fund to give Ghanaians flexible and cheaper financial support to buy shares in the expected 10% local content.

He said the foreign expatriate get about 1% to 3% credit rate to come and invest in the oil industry but the Ghanaians are paying as high as 30% interest on loans to banks due to the 23% treasury rate of Bank of Ghana.

Kwabena Darko Mensah also noted that the Bill allows the Minister to review the percentage of local content, which could also be amended, but that should not prevent the passage of the Bill because the Minister could be expected to exercise his discretion positively ahead of any amendments.