We have seen a ‘rejoinder’ (http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=258103) from the Minerals Commission to aspects of IMANI’s recent report highlighting the lack of progress with Ghana’s main structural reforms.
In the report we argued that though Ghana has made halting advances in some areas of national life and clear headway in a few others, it has done very little to tackle the ‘big ticket’ items that can take the country from one level of national capacity to the next.
It is commendable that a state agency like the Minerals Commission would seek to deepen the debate on matters touching on its mandate, and to offer information about its activities for wider public education.
In this specific case, though, we are of the opinion that the rejoinder could have been based on a more accurate reading of our original report.
The Commission’s rejoinder starts off with the notion that IMANI is not aware that hydrocarbon *policy* is the province of the Ministry of Energy, and that the *regulation* of the sector has transitioned to the Petroleum Commission (and in the area of strategic planning, also the Energy Commission). Prior to the recent reforms the Ministry of Energy performed these functions, relying on the technical advice of the GNPC.
But there is also the issue of “administration” and policy *execution*, where various public sector agencies and departments such as the National Petroleum Authority (downstream petroleum activities) play frontline roles in the implementation of policy and the enforcement of *regulation*.
That there is some confusion in, for instance, the area of gas policy and regulation in this country, with some frontline agencies like Ghana Gas (structured as a limited liability company wholly owned by the state) refusing to submit completely to the oversight of the regulatory authorities merely adds to the complexity of a rather complicated structure. This in fact is the REAL challenge bedevilling the effective distribution of functions among the various policy and regulatory arms of government, and it is on this matter that the Minerals Commission could have shed useful light.
That mining sector regulation is not captured under hydrocarbon policy in Ghana’s present, still evolving, situation is trite knowledge. However, the neat demarcations across the extractive sector that the Minerals Commission appears to want to create are unfortunately simplistic. If Ghana was to take coal exploration seriously, for example, it would be unclear in which category that subsector would fall: mining or hydrocarbons.
The Minerals Commission’s rejoinder oversimplifies a rather intricate situation in a hasty attempt to question IMANI’s familiarity with the facts and issues in question. In the end, the rejoinder raises serious doubts about the Commission’s own reckoning of the challenges of policymaking, regulation and administration/execution in the extractives sector.
Nowhere in IMANI’s report do we misrepresent the complicated structure of the extractives sector, or any of its subsectors. Because no section was dedicated to ‘mining’ per se, IMANI in making substantive comments on hydrocarbon policy made a side reference to mining regulation in order to draw relevant inferences. That this should be misconstrued as ‘wrong capturing’, and highlighted prominently, while more substantive issues are neglected, is unfortunate and does nothing to advance the debate.
We will urge the Commission to correct the erroneous impressions created by its rejoinder in the spirit of public education.
Readers are welcome to read the full report here for the full context of this matter: