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Dr Joe Oteng-Adjei, Minister of Energy on Monday noted that Ghana is likely to face irregularities with regulation and accurate tax assessment and collection with the production of oil and gas in 2010.

He said the ministry had therefore put together a strategy to train and educate technical professionals at the National Petroleum Authority and other relevant institutions to avert such leakages.

Dr. Oteng-Adjei made the observation at a two- day annual convention on oil and gas governance on the theme: "Transparency, Accountability and Development of Oil and Gas Industry in Ghana."

With regard to accurate assessment and collection of tax, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and the Internal Revenue Service are working hard to strengthen the capacity of staff to deal with the issue, he added.

Dr. Oteng-Adjei announced that government had signed the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) to improve on transparency in the flow of revenue from the country's extractive industries.

It would be done through full publication and verification of company payments and government receipts to ensure transparency and accountability in all sectors of the economy including petroleum operations in the country.

He said in addition to the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act, government was planning to establish a National Petroleum Archive to make non-confidential documents available to the public.

Dr. Oteng-Adjei commended the efforts and dynamism of the Ghana Research and Advocacy Programme (G-rap) in assisting to create a platform for stakeholders in the oil sector to engage government on developing a credible avenue for Ghana's emerging oil sector.

Nana Kobina Nketsia, Omanhene of Essikado Traditional Area, said despite the high revenue potential from the exploitation of natural resources, citizens of many naturally resource-endowed countries continued to wallow in poverty and misery.

He advised government to introduce a compulsory course on 'Oil and the Human Ecology' for first year students in the country's universities.

Mr. Fritz Bruggen, Chairman of G-rap Founders' Committee said Ghana was expected to reach the status of middle income country soon and this should be taken into account by all development partners.

He added that with more revenue expected from the oil and gas sector, issues of transparency and accountability would become more important than ever.

Dr. Cheryl Gopaul, Co-Chairperson of Governance Sector Group, said the Ministries of Food and Agriculture, Environment, Science and Technology, Energy and Fisheries Commission should work in tandem for mutually accountable results.

She explained that each Ministry must be clear about its responsibilities and their collective roles to avoid operating in a vacuum or in a fragmented manner.

Dr. Gopaul noted that the 2010 Budget indicated government's intention to extend coverage of the EITI to the oil and gas sector to ensure transparency in the revenue management of the sector.
Source: GNA

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