Mr. Andre Egyapa Mercer, the Deputy Energy Minister, has averred that the Government of Ghana has no plans to takeover the petroleum market through its Gold for Oil programme.
According to him, there has been concerns that the government through the Gold for Oil programme will maximize its market share thus driving out private competitors.
Commenting on the issue, Mr. Mercer divulged that such a move is in contrast to the capitalist orientation of the ruling New Patriotic Party, and thus, will never happen.
“I don’t think so at all. There’s a 100% market. Government already plays through some state-owned entities, play in the region of 40 -50% and that hasn’t changed. It’s not like they are doing 100%. The Bulk Distributing Company (BDC’s) play in the 50 -60% space, and that is still there. And it was important for us to do the test run so that some of the issues that come up could be addressed.”Mr. Andre Egyapa Mercer
The Deputy Energy Minister further explained that Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation (BOST) along with other state actors have limited capacity thus would be unable to handle the full demands of the nation if that was even the intention.
“There is a limited capacity that BOST has anyway, there is a limited capacity that Go Energy has anyway, so it cannot be the case all of a sudden that they’re increasing their capacity overnight. And really, like I said, we are a party that believes in the private sector. We are a government that consistently maintains that the private sector is the engine of growth.
“But you ought to go back to the history, in the past, all our petroleum products were imported by GNPC to complement what Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) was doing, so that entire space was government dominated. Government of Ghana under the presidency of His Excellency President Kufuor took out the GNPC factor and allowed private sector people to complement what TOR was doing. That hasn’t changed over the years and that’s exactly what is happening today.”Mr. Andre Egyapa Mercer
No Parliamentary Consent Needed For Gold for Oil Initiative
Speaking on the issue of Parliamentary consent, Mr. Mercer divulged the government’s Gold for Oil policy does not need to be submitted to parliament for approval.
Making a case for his submission, the deputy energy minister disclosed that the programme was instituted within the mandates of the Bank of Ghana and thus, does not fall within the purview of parliament.
“On even the import side, BOST, before the commencement of this programme, Gold for Oil, if you like, imports petroleum products as part of their operations, do they take it to parliament for approval?
“So, if Bank of Ghana is buying Gold in-country as part of its mandate and externalizing it to as it were either swap for commodity on behalf of Ghanaian importer and or monetize to pay on behalf of a Ghanaian importer which then the Ghanaian importer pays in cedis in Ghana, how does that require parliamentary approval?”Mr. Andre Egyapa Mercer
According to him, there have been calls from the Minority side of parliament for the Gold for Oil policy to be brought to the house for perusal.
However, these calls as stated by Mr. Mercer are merely to truncate the success of the programme which as at Monday, January 16, had delivered 41,000 metric tons of oil from the United Arab Emirates to Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation (BOST).
“But I know why, especially people in the NDC led by former President Mahama will call for parliament because you know the dynamics there. To the point that the parliament of Ghana passed a law, the Minerals Income Investment Fund Act which then empowered government through requisite agency to set up a company for purposes of monetising our royalty.
“It’s all in the law. But when government sought to implement the law that had been passed by parliament by way of the Agyapa transaction you saw what happened?”Mr. Andre Egyapa Mercer