The Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) is still struggling to recover GH¢778.6 million owed it by the government and its related agencies since 2015.
Although the amount, owed by the government, the Ministry of Finance, the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) and the Ghana National Gas Company Limited (Ghana Gas), has been sitting on the corporation’s books since 2015, there is no clear payment plan by the debtors to clear their indebtedness.
This came to light when officials of the GNPC appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament yesterday to respond to issues raised against the GNPC in the 2017 Auditor-General’s report.
The team from the GNPC was led by its Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in charge of Commercials, Mr Joseph Dadzie.
The PAC scrutinised the Auditor-General’s report on public boards, corporations and other statutory institutions for 2017.
Appearing at yesterday’s sitting were three agencies under the Ministry of Energy — the GNPC, the Petroleum Commission (PC) and the Northern Electricity Distribution Company Limited (NEDCo).
The National Electrification Scheme (NES)), another agency of the ministry, was billed to appear before the PAC, but its officials did not turn up.
Details of debts
Giving details of the indebtedness to the GNPC, Mr Dadzie said the government owed the corporation GH¢102.5 million, while the Ministry of Finance, TOR and Ghana Gas owed GH¢261.1 million, GH¢198.8 million and GH¢216.2 million, respectively.
He said the failure of the debtors to redeem their indebtedness had negatively affected the liquidity of the corporation and indicated that there was no immediate plan to recover the money owed the company.
“We do not have a choice because we are owed by the state and if the state refuses to pay the amount, there is really nothing you can do; but we have had challenges with cash flow, especially this period when we have seen crude oil prices go down,” he said.
He said the Ministry of Finance had made some payments on behalf of the GNPC towards gas purchases and so there would be the need for broader reconciliation of the payments to get a real picture of the debt levels of the corporation.
Drama unfolded at the PAC sitting when the leadership of the committee crossed fire over GH¢4.5 million paid by the GNPC to some state agencies and private entities as corporate social responsibility (CSR).
A public interest question put to Mr Dadzie, on why the corporation gave GH¢500,000 to the Economic and Organised Crime Organisation (EOCO) and specified amounts to the Rebecca Foundation and the Okyenhene, incurred the displeasure of the Deputy Ranking Member of the committee and Member of Parliament for Nantong, Mr Mohammed Hardi Tuferu.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Ningo-Prampram, Mr Sam George, who asked the question, sought to know what had gone into the decision by the GNPC to fund the activities of such entities.
Although the question was approved by the Chairman of PAC, Mr James Avedzi, Mr Tuferu accused the chairman of acting unfairly by unilaterally allowing the question.
“We have a practice that every public interest question must pass through the committee for approval, but this time round the chairman never referred any of such questions on a matter relating to 2019, which is far away from the audit accounts of 2017, which we are looking at today,” he said.
The reaction by Mr Tuferu generated heated exchanges between the two leaders, as each of them spoke simultaneously to make their case.
After a period of back and forth, Mr Avedzi discharged the officials of the GNPC and adjourned sitting for the day to today.
The team from the PC had to answer questions on issues related to management, as raised by the Auditor-General.
For instance, the audit report cited the commission for engaging seven consultants to mentor its staff, without provisions in the job description of the consultants for periodic reporting.
It also cited the PC for transferring cash into some accounts, in violation of the directive by the Ministry of Finance for all money payable to the Energy Ministry to be paid through the ministry’s account at the Bank of Ghana.
Responding to those charges, the CEO of the PC, Mr Egbert Faibille Jnr, said the number of consultants had been reduced to just one.
“Immediately this matter was brought up in the audit finding, we took it up and I am able to report that from the date of the audit issue up to now, we have caused changes to be made to the contract of the existing consultant,” he said.
He said also corrective measures had been taken to resolve those management lapses, as recommended by the Auditor-General.
The NEDCo was discharged by the committee after just two minutes after its officials had satisfactorily responded to the only infraction the company had been cited for.
It was cited for not properly keeping key records because of a malfunctioning software called the Oracle, but its officials said the software had been put in good shape.