Business News of Friday, 11 January 2019
The Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) says it is poised to spearhead an advocacy that will see an amendment of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA) to sanction institutions which fail to comply with requests made on them to provide data for the Committee’s work.
Chairman of PIAC, Dr Steave Manteaw, in a statement said “a more sustainable way of eliminating the incidence of delays or non-compliance with its requests for data, will be the institution of sanctions through future amendment to the Petroleum Revenue Management Act.”
PIAC has been unhappy with the failure of the Ministry of Finance (MoF) to furnish the Committee with the required data to afford PIAC complete its work on time.
Dr Manteaw maintained that the challenges of delays in provision of data would not stop PIAC from carrying out its mandate, rather “the Committee intends to continue bringing to public notice all reporting entities who fail to respond timeously to its request for data.”
In a press release issued along with the launch of its Semi Annual report for 2018, the Committee blamed the three month-delay in the release of the report on the foot dragging by the Ministry.
No ABFA expenditure in report
PIAC therefore blamed the Ministry of Finance for the Committee’s inability to comply with the statutory timelines for its report, and for the exclusion of the ABFA expenditure analysis from the report. Dr Manteaw stated that “as a result of the delay, this report is without the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) expenditure data for the period.”
The development occurred because, the Ministry of Finance failed to honour PIAC’s request for the data in question, in good time for its inclusion in the Committee’s analysis.
According to PIAC, the initial data request, which was for revenue and expenditure, was made in a letter dated 17 July 2018, and addressed to the Minister of Finance.
The Ministry in response provided only the revenue data, leaving out the expenditure component.
MoF ignores data request letter
Dr Manteaw noted that after several verbal reminders to staff of the Ministry, the Committee followed up with a letter dated October 4, 2018 reminding the Minister that, his delay in providing the requested data had caused PIAC to slip on the deadline for filing its semi-annual report, and urged him to treat the matter with utmost urgency. “This reminder also went unheeded,” the PIAC Chairman said.
MoF promises but fails to deliver
On November 7, 2018, at the hearing of PIAC’s 2017 Annual Report by the Finance, Mines and Energy Committees of Parliament, PIAC brought to attention, the non-response of the Ministry of Finance to its request for expenditure data. In spite of promises by the Ministry to provide the data immediately after the hearing, it was not until 17 December 2018 that the expenditure data was supplied, by which time the report had been finalized.